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In the Beginning (Part 3): Free Will or God's Setup?

June 12, 2009

In the previous post we looked at the LDS doctrine of the fall in contrast with the Biblical teaching on the subject.  We will now consider the additional LDS scriptures that influence the interpretation of the original sin in contrast with Romans 5.

In 2 Nephi 2:22-25 and Moses 5:10-11 two competing commands are explained.  God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply the earth” is set in juxtaposition with the command “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”  According to these LDS scriptures, Adam and Eve would not have been able to bear children if they did not eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  Yet, God wanted them to bear children so there would be opportunity for all God’s spirit children to come to earth for a time of mortal probation to learn and progress.

The LDS Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual explains it like this:

In the Garden of Eden, God commanded Adam and Eve to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Moses 2:28). He also commanded them not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Moses 3:17). As long as they did not partake of the forbidden fruit, they would remain in the garden and would not die. But they also would not be able to obey the command to multiply (Moses 5:11; 2 Nephi 2:23). Heavenly Father gave them agency to choose between the two commands. [1]

To an outside observer, this LDS theology can appear to be teaching that God trapped Adam and Eve into violating one of the two commands and that God is a deceiver and the author of sin.  There’s actually a technical term for this kind of conflicting communication.  It’s called a “double-bind.”  I remember studying about this in psychology.  Case studies have demonstrated a link between this kind of dysfunctional communication of parents and mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, in their children.

While LDS would vehemently deny that God is the author of sin or a conniving deceiver, the doctrine remains a difficulty for LDS theologians to explain.

BYU professor Alonzo Gaskill puts it like this:

“[Adam and Eve] were given two simultaneous commands that could not both be kept. For God to command Adam and Eve not to partake of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil, and also command them to multiply and replenish the earth (which they could do only if they partook of the ‘forbidden’ fruit), is to place them in a logical paradox in which they cannot possibly be obedient. That is contrary to the nature of God (I Nephi 3:7). Additionally, for God to then administer repercussions (akin to penalties) for their disobedience to one law–when He Himself had required that they break that law so as to fulfill another law–runs entirely counter to God’s nature, to the eternal principle of agency, and to the entire plan of salvation. God simply would not do this–to Adam and Eve or to you and me. To do so would be to act unmercifully, unjustly, and unrighteously.  Of course it must be remembered that nowhere in scripture do we have a full acount of exactly what took place in the Garden surrounding the giving of the command not to partake of the ‘forbidden’ fruit.  Something is clearly missing in each of the authorized accounts of the Fall.  Something additional must have happened that is unclear in the story of the Fall but revealed through modern prophets.” [He goes on to explain how modern prophets have taught that God gave Adam and Eve “information” so that they knew which command they should choose to follow, and that when God said “don’t eat” God really meant “eat.”]  [2]

BYU professor Stephen Robinson goes on to claim that the Garden of Eden was a period of “duress” (??) and he refers to the Eden experience as a “setup”:

“After all, the ‘transgression’ was committed under duress in the ‘setup’ in the Garden with its extremely limited options, was committed without Adam and Eve having full moral understanding or accountability, was necessary for the further progress of God’s plan, and was fully intended by God to be the outcome of the Eden experience.” [3]

No such opposition of commands occurs in the Biblical narrative.  Adam and Eve could have continued in their Garden of Eden bliss and could have propagated innocent children who knew no evil.  There is no biblical statement that they could only have had children if they had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The book of James denies the possibility that God would engage in this kind of double-bind setup:

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”  (James 1:13-17).

According to Romans 5, Adam and Eve sinned by partaking of the forbidden fruit.  According to James 1, God is not responsible for anyone’s sin, but a person is drawn away of their own lusts which bring forth sin.  The Biblical view of the fall is that Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan, drawn away of their own lusts, and sinned as an act of their own free will.

1. Lesson 4: “Because of My Transgression My Eyes Are Opened”, Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 12

2. Gaskill, Alonzo L. The Savior and The Serpent: Unlocking the Doctrine of the Fall, p. 14.

3. Robinson, Stephen E., Following Christ, p. 49.

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121 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2009 11:46 pm

    I’m pretty sure God sets me up to fail Every. Single. Day.

    😀

    Haha, jst kidding. But it feels that way sometimes, doesn’t it? 😉

  2. Webster permalink
    June 13, 2009 3:56 am

    I have so many questions about all of this garden story. Here are some I just made up on the fly:

    1) If God created a perfect paradise, why did He create an evil tree within it? Does He create evil within perfection for a purpose or is it a character flaw of His?

    2) Why did He create people who would succumb to the fatal flaw that He created in His garden?

    3) Why did He create a devil? And wouldn’t He then logically be responsible for all the evil the devil did and/or inspired others to do?

    4) Why did He allow the devil into His garden? I assume He had the power to keep him out if He wanted to.

    5) Was He surprised that the devil was able to thwart His first (live a perfect life in Eden) plan so easily? It appears that Adam and Eve didn’t even get close to having children while in the garden.

    6) Was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ a ‘Plan B’, needed to overcome the many mistakes made in Eden? If so, that was a very heavy price to pay.

    I don’t know if the Bible offers answers to these questions, but I agree with you that it should be the ultimate authority (unless God could answer for Himself, and how He would do that today, I do not know).

    I’m sure many great thinkers through the centuries have come up with their philosophical back flips to explain away these questions (like God was bored one day and wanted to see what He already knew would happen–that seems very weak to me), but I am interested in what the revealed word of God says about these questions and not what some competing philosophers have to say.

    Does the Word of God have answers to the many serious questions raised by the garden story? I’m not one who believes God should give us a life without troubles and challenges, but some of the above questions make me wonder what kind of a being He is and what He’s trying to do. Any ideas?

  3. Ethan permalink
    June 13, 2009 7:00 am

    Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man

    Where did Satan come from?

    Only two explanations:

    1. Evangelical view:
    God created Satan ex nihilo and willingly unleashed him on the world. This view makes God ulitmately responsible for all evil and therefore God “tempteth every man.” If I lay a bear trap in my toddler’s playroom and he steps in it. Who is to blame?

    I would suggest this paradox is for more troubling than the Fall.

    2. LDS view:
    Satan, like Christ, you and me, has always existed as intelligence that was selected by God to be his spirit children with the chance to come to Earth.

    Paul said it best: “We are the offspring of GOD.” Acts 17:29
    Jesus also chimed in: “I said, Ye are Gods.” John 10:34
    Peter hints at this plan: ” Be partakers of the divine nature.

    Satan, who choose not to be a “partaker,” fell from grace and CHOSE to be evil. This places the blame squarely on Satan. (Rev. 12:1-8).

    I would suggest this solution is not only elegant, but logical. The biblical roots are only icing. To me there is absolutely no question as to which of these interpretations is the right one.

  4. June 13, 2009 2:56 pm

    Ethan,

    I am not sure who you define as “Evangelical” but you have missed the mark in your explanation of Satan from a confessional Protestant view.

    Scripture tell us in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 that there was a fall of angels as well as man. What caused this fall is not explained outside of these verses but we know that it was the actions of, “the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling…” “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell…” that turned their nature against God, and not His creation that was “very good” (Gen 1:31).

    Some say that the sin of Satan was pride and an aspiration to be god that caused his downfall. Some distinguish between Satan who fell before the fall of Adam and the subordinate devils who may have fallen due to lust (Gen 6:2). Others claim that this distinction is not necessary and that there may have been multiple falls with respect to angels.

    What is clear from the testimony of Scripture is that Satan and his followers are in “constant rebellion against God and they seek to blind and mislead, even the elect”, and encourage sin and rebellion against God.

    If you are interested in the Reformed perspective Berhof’s Systematic Theology is available on Google Books (this book is two volumes in one, this material comes from the second volume of my hardback edition ). It is in Pg 148 and 149 (The Evil Angels) that he covers this material. Hope that helps.

  5. Ethan permalink
    June 13, 2009 5:59 pm

    Gendek,

    Very interesting. I have no major problem with that take. It is actually in harmony with the LDS view that Satan, once a powerful force for good (“very good” as you qoute), became prideful, wanted to play the role of Christ for his own glorification and fell, bitterly persuading one third of the host of heaven (stars in Revelation’s symbology) to join him against God in the war. Then, eventually God expells them from heaven. Obviously evil cannot exist in Heaven so that implies Satan was “heavenly” before.

    I don’t see where we differ, other than the crucial question of what constitutes being a “child of God.” Do you agree that any being with human or godlike intelligence capabilites (Satan, Christ the “son” of God, you and me) that was created by God is indeed a “child” of that God? If you hold this view then Satan and Jesus, both being creations (products or “children” of God) would by nature make us a type of siblings. That’s a reasonable argument.

    If I make two ginger bread men and one happens to start killing people so I toss him out of the kitchen, they are both still equally my creations or “children.”

    What is the position of the Evangelicals on this blog? Was Satan willed by God to become evil? I was always under the impression that your position was that God created Satan with the specific intent to tempt men, essentially making God responsible for evil.

  6. Ethan permalink
    June 13, 2009 6:01 pm

    sorry about the runaway bold, HTML is lame.

  7. psychochemiker permalink
    June 13, 2009 9:55 pm

    Not knowing how to use HTML is lame, not the HTML.
    I speak as an HTML offender.

  8. June 13, 2009 10:17 pm

    I don’t see where we differ… Do you agree that any being with human or godlike intelligence capabilites (Satan, Christ the “son” of God, you and me) that was created by God is indeed a “child” of that God? If you hold this view then Satan and Jesus, both being creations (products or “children” of God) would by nature make us a type of siblings. That’s a reasonable argument.

    Our idea of who Jesus Christ is seems very different to me. Especially given the explanation you just gave.

    The Bible says that Jesus Christ has always been God and that He created Lucifer and all the other angels and us humans (Col. 1:15-19, John 1:1-3).

    If LDS agree that Jehovah in the OT is referring to Jesus Christ, then I think LDS would agree that the Bible says Jesus Christ created the spirits of men (Zech. 12:1).

    Also, if Jehovah is referring to Jesus Christ, I think LDS would agree that the Bible teaches that there was no God before Jesus Christ nor will there be after Him (Isa 43:10).

    Contrast your definition of Jesus Christ with the one below. This is one of the best analogies I’ve read on the nature of Christ and how He was begotten of God and is God as the Bible says (John 1:1). This is the understanding that Jonathan Edwards arrived at after his serious study of all of the Bible’s revelation on the nature of Christ:

    If a man could have an absolutely perfect idea of all that pass’d in his mind, all the series of ideas and exercises in every respect perfect as to order, degree, circumstance, etc. for any particular space of time past, suppose the last hour, he would really, to all intents and purpose, be over again what he was that last hour. And if it were possible for a man by reflection perfectly to contemplate all that is in his own mind in a hour, as it is and at the same time that it is there, in its first and direct existence; if a man, that is, had a perfect reflex or contemplative idea of every thought at the same moment or moments that that thought was, and of every exercise at and during the same time that that exercise was, and so through a whole hour, a man would really be two during that time, he would be indeed double, he would be twice at once. The idea he has of himself would be himself again.

    Therefore as God with perfect clearness, fullness and strength, understands Himself, views His own essence (in which there is no distinction of substance and act but which is wholly substance and wholly act), that idea which God hath of Himself is absolutely Himself. This representation of the Divine nature and essence is the Divine nature and essence again: so that by God’s thinking of the deity, [deity] must certainly be generated. Hereby there is another person begotten, there is another infinite eternal almighty and most holy and the same God, the very same divine nature.

    And this person is the second person of the Trinity, the only begotten and dearly beloved Son of God; He is the eternal, necessary, perfect, substantial and personal idea which God hath of Himself; and that it is so seems to me to be abundantly confirmed by the Word of God.” (Jonathan Edwards, An Essay on the Trinity, pp. 102-103 as cited in The Pleasures of God by John Piper)

    While no analogy of the Trinity is perfect, I think this one does the best job, IMO, of synthesizing the Biblical revelation that there is only one God, but that He is manifested in 3 persons. For more on a Biblical defense of the Trinity, see this post by NChristine.

    @ your question about Satan –

    Everything God creates is perfect and good. God is not the author of evil, (God is perfectly light and in Him is no darkness at all – 1 John 1:5), but the absence of God is total darkness and evil. The Bible doesn’t say exactly what happened prior to the creation account, but we have some idea from scriptures such as Gundek mentioned. I personally believe there was a point in time when God gave the angels free will and that it was after this time that some of them chose to rebel.

  9. June 13, 2009 11:14 pm

    Hello Webster 🙂

    I’ll take a stab at your questions –

    1) If God created a perfect paradise, why did He create an evil tree within it? Does He create evil within perfection for a purpose or is it a character flaw of His?

    The Bible doesn’t say the tree itself was evil – rather, it was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God doesn’t create evil. I think evil is the absence of all that is good and light – i.e. the absence of God.

    2) Why did He create people who would succumb to the fatal flaw that He created in His garden?

    My take on this is that God was pleased to create humans with free wills. How can one truly worship and love someone if they don’t have the option to reject that love? To me that seems coercive. God doesn’t force us to follow Him. He gives us the choice.

    3) Why did He create a devil? And wouldn’t He then logically be responsible for all the evil the devil did and/or inspired others to do?

    I touched on this in my comment above. God did not create the devil. He created a beautiful angel, Lucifer. Similar to giving humans free will, I believe there was a point in time when God gave the angels the freedom to choose who they would follow. It was at that point that Lucifer rebelled and became the devil.

    4) Why did He allow the devil into His garden? I assume He had the power to keep him out if He wanted to.

    Have you read the book of Job? I believe God allows Satan to tempt and try humans to prove His righteousness and justice to the principalities and powers in heavenly places where an invisible war is being carried out. God’s character has been maligned by the angels who rebelled and they continue to try to deceive humans into believing that God is unrighteous and unfair. The truth is, God has shown Himself to be completely and totally unfair by offering sinful, selfish, rebellious humans the opportunity to partake in the divine nature – something they in no way deserve – because He offered His only begotten Son to die in their place. This is a most gracious, loving God, and the accusations hurled at His character are completely without substance in light of the cross.

    5) Was He surprised that the devil was able to thwart His first (live a perfect life in Eden) plan so easily? It appears that Adam and Eve didn’t even get close to having children while in the garden.

    God has perfect foreknowledge of all things so He is not surprised by anything. And you are right about the relatively short length of time that it appears Adam and Eve actually lived in the Garden. I’ve heard some speculate that it’s possible they didn’t even make it a week before they sinned.

    6) Was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ a ‘Plan B’, needed to overcome the many mistakes made in Eden? If so, that was a very heavy price to pay.

    I believe God has perfect foreknowledge and doesn’t require a “Plan B” for anything. You are so right that sending His Son to die was a very heavy price to pay. As I stated above, all accusations against God’s character should be considered in light of the cross.

  10. June 14, 2009 1:37 am

    Dang. I was just listening to a Sunstone podcast where a couple competing views about this subject were forwarded from an LDS perspective. But I can’t remember what they were exactly.

    I would build on what others have said however and note that there’s not much appreciable moral difference between a God who provides one commandment that necessitates rejecting a supposedly evil tree (by the way – I don’t think it was an “evil tree”) and another that necessitates embracing it – and a God who drops a couple innocents into a nice happy garden, but just happens to leave explosive trees sitting around.

    I mean, really, what’s the diff?

    But I’ll have to see if I can dig up anything on those multiple Mormon scholarly views. I can’t remember where I heard them, so don’t hold your breath.

  11. June 14, 2009 1:56 am

    I don’t think it was an “evil tree”

    Of course not. I have it on good authority that it was a hazelnut chocolate tree. I’d have fallen, too.

  12. Webster permalink
    June 14, 2009 2:07 am

    I was hoping for some answers from the Bible. If we are not to add to nor take away from it then we are all up a creek. No one relies on the Bible alone. All have added to it in one way or another to try to understand its passages.

    Mormons view the Bible through their extra-biblical, “prophetic” revelations. Protestants view it through Greek philosophical traditions and church council decisions. And Jews through their rabbinic teachings and traditions. Everyone thinks they know what the Bible means, but in truth most of what we each read into it comes from our extra-biblical world view, whether built on tradition, philosophy, logic, or whatever.

    One side accepts certain passages from the Bible as literal while passing on others as figurative or symbolic. The other side views these passages in the completely opposite manner. Each side has to go outside of the actual text to prove what the text means, and each side probably thinks they are only using the actual text of the Bible, not realizing the assumption they are superimposing on the text.

    I don’t think there’s a solution to this, but I think we should try to understand the various world views that are behind our different ideas of the Bible. Even things which appear to be clearly stated in the Bible will be viewed differently based on the world view to which we ascribe.

    We have faith in the Bible, and I think we often have even more faith in the extra-biblical traditions through which we view the Bible. We all place a huge amount of faith into some type of framework into which we fit the pieces of the Bible. The frameworks we accept and use and place our faith in determine the various meanings we see in the Biblical text.

  13. June 14, 2009 4:29 pm

    That’s why I’ve never pretended to be going off “just the Bible.”

    There’s not enough there in the Bible for “solo scriptura” to even be useful.

    Note: I said SOLO, not sola. Sola is a bit more useful stance, although still problematic.

  14. June 14, 2009 9:02 pm

    Seth said: “I would build on what others have said however and note that there’s not much appreciable moral difference between a God who provides one commandment that necessitates rejecting a supposedly evil tree (by the way – I don’t think it was an “evil tree”) and another that necessitates embracing it – and a God who drops a couple innocents into a nice happy garden, but just happens to leave explosive trees sitting around.

    I mean, really, what’s the diff?”

    The difference is this: in the Biblical narrative God gave Adam and Eve the choice to disobey Him. That is my definition of free will. They were given 1 command to not eat of 1 tree in the midst of an otherwise amazing paradise. The fact that they were not even able to keep this 1 simple command teaches us a lot about the nature of man, the nature of sin, and Satan’s ability to deceive.

    Contrast that with the Garden story presented in LDS scriptures. God had to basically “trick” Adam and Eve into sinning. What does this imply? Were they such perfect humans that they would not have disobeyed God’s command if He hadn’t set up two conflicting commands? Since it was clearly a “trick,” Adam and Eve can hardly be held responsible so the sin has been re-defined as no sin at all. In this Garden scenario, God is the deceiver, Adam and Eve are the innocent humans carrying out God’s deceptive plan, and Satan is the rather harmless beast who was the one who was really deceived.

    Gaskill says,

    “Lucifer is clearly the one deceived in Eden. Hugh Nibley wrote: ‘In ancient lore [Eve] is the one who outwits the serpent and trips him up with his own smartness.’ God wanted Adam and Eve to eat, but Lucifer ‘knew not the mind of God’ (Moses 4:6) (Alonzo L. Gaskill, The Savior and the Serpent, p. 20).

  15. June 14, 2009 10:35 pm

    Ummm… free will on Adam and Eve’s part is fully present in the Mormon narrative too. So I’m not sure what your point is.

  16. June 14, 2009 10:54 pm

    How so, Seth? They were given two conflicting commands. They had to choose which one to disobey. Obedience was not an option that I can see. Or am I missing something?

  17. germit permalink
    June 15, 2009 12:06 am

    Normally the LDS are very strong on free will….then we get to the garden, and suddenly GOD was unfair to ask them to make a truly free choice (complete with an act of evil as a true choice). Now that’s seen as somehow being unjust or something. I don’t get this. The principle works , and worked, in the Garden the same way it always does. And if there is no real evil, there is no real choice between good and evil. This doesn’t seem all that complicated to me. What am I missing here ??

  18. June 15, 2009 1:36 am

    Why does obedience even have to be an option for free will to exist here?

  19. June 15, 2009 3:21 am

    If they didn’t have the choice to be obedient then they didn’t do anything wrong. According to the LDS account, God put them in an impossible situation in which their disobedience was inevitable no matter what they did. If the LDS version is true, Genesis and Romans 5 are wrong in saying that Adam sinned and God was wrong to punish Adam & Eve because they didn’t actually sin.

  20. June 15, 2009 4:22 am

    While I’d honestly be more or less at peace with the idea of Romans simply being wrong… I don’t think the text of Romans 5 is ruled out by the LDS reading. The fact that Adam’s disobedience was an ultimately good thing for the overall plan doesn’t mean there wasn’t a sin per se. We talk about how Adam’s choice was ultimately beneficial.

    How does this rule out Adam sinning?

  21. June 15, 2009 4:40 am

    Seth,

    I was studying the BOM this evening and read this verse in 2 Nephi 3:11: “but a seer will I raise up out of the fruit of thy loins; and unto him will I give power to bring forth my word unto the seed of thy loins – and not to the bringing forth of my word only, saith the Lord, but to the convincing them of my word, which shall have already gone forth among them.”

    You have just stated that you would be okay with Romans simply being wrong since it appears to contradict LDS scriptures. How is this “convincing” people that God’s Word is true?

    As far as whether or not Adam sinned, I’m not the one to deal with. It’s all the LDS scholars who admit it’s “hair-splitting” to try to differentiate between “transgression” and “sin,” but they will try to do so anyway since they can see it’s not fair to say Adam & Eve sinned when they really didn’t have a choice not to…

  22. June 15, 2009 4:44 am

    Gaskill says Adam and Eve’s intent was “perfectly pure (i.e., non-sinful)” (The Savior & The Serpent, p. 17). He’s the one who said it “may be a futile act of hair-splitting” to differentiate between transgression and sin. He then goes in to an elaborate attempt to define the difference…. It’s amazing. I’m still scratching my head.

    I love Romans 5.

  23. germit permalink
    June 15, 2009 2:11 pm

    it’s not fair to say Adam & Eve sinned when they really didn’t have a choice not to…

    Adam and Eve come off as more moral than GOD HIMSELF; GOD gives them no ‘out’. They do the best they can, and GOD seems to make use of it. As Jessica notes, this makes nonsense out of the rest of the bible that makes clear the sin of Adam. So in addition to not getting the free will situation right (the question of why GOD would set this up anyway), there is a disconnect at to what “sin” means.

  24. faithoffathers permalink
    June 15, 2009 5:45 pm

    To some degree, all of us go through the same process as Adam and Eve. We each fall when we reach the age of accountability- around 8 years old. Before that, we go through a period of innocence before our eyes are opened and we recognize the difference between good and evil.

    Did Adam and Eve know how to procreate? Did they fully understand the commandment to mulitply and replenish the earth? Or did they not completely understand this procreative power before the fall- not unlike a young child? Each of us are under the same commandment to multiply and replenish the earth- but there is a time reference for it- a time in life for obeying that commandment. We certainly wouldn’t want our young kids having babies. Was God telling them that their role would be to have children and not necessarily that they were to get pregnant “today?”

    These are things we simply do not know. But I can easily see that the answers would have significant implications on the discussion here. In our minds, we compress all these events and communications between God and Adam/Eve into a very short period. It very well could have been very many years that they were in the Garen. If so, why would they have not have children in that period? In reality, we have no idea how long they were in the garden. Ours is a limited view of events that occured thousands of years ago.

    Also- I know many non-LDS Christians that believe that the fruit was just a symbol of sex- that Adam and Eve actually participated in the procreative act- and that that is what triggered the fall. How would this not be contradictory as well. “Multiply and replenish…… How dare you have sex….. you are cursed, etc.” My sense is that most non-LDS here don’t hold this view, but any comments?

    I do not believe God trapped Adam and Eve. I think there is likely a very simple explanation for what some perceive as contradictory commandments.

    Can some non-LDS person here explain what would have happened if Adam and Eve had not partaken of the fruit? Would they have had kids in an innocent state in the garden?

    keep the faith!

    fof

  25. Ethan permalink
    June 15, 2009 5:52 pm

    From your original post I think the crux of your point is procreation, right?: There is no biblical statement that they could only have had children if they had eaten of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

    As immortals Adam & Eve could not have had children. They had to become mortal first. This fact is implicit in Gen 1:28; 2:24. Don’t overlook the other command that God gave to Adam and Eve, to “multiply, and replenish the earth” (Gen. 1:28). LDS doctrine teaches that this was the wiser choice, a choice God wanted our first parents to make.

    LDS believe the following:

    1. Satan lied. Eating the fruit did bring death (mortality) as God stated and the temple teaches (Gen. 2:17).
    2. Adam and Eve’s eyes, however, were opened. This was a step toward godhood since “the Lord God said. Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil” (Gen. 3:22).
    3. Eating the fruit was a prerequisite step to mortality. (Gen 1:28; 2:24).

    Three vital questions remain:

    1. Why did God give opposing commandments? One or the other obviously had to be violated. Adam and Eve were told to multiply, and replenish the earth, which they could not do in the Garden of Eden because they were not mortal, because they had not partaken of the fruit (Gen. 1:28 and 2 Ne. 2:23). Adam and Eve were told not to partake of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, because if they did they would die (Gen. 2:17).

    When one realizes that the freedom to choose is God’s greatest gift to mankind, and that one of the purposes of life is to learn to make correct choices, then one begins to see the purpose of the Fall. God gave Adam and Eve the option of staying in the Garden or becoming mortal. Becoming mortal would not have been a meaningful choice if there weren’t two very different alternatives: staying in a safe haven with no problems but no challenges for growth; or facing pain, suffering and work, but also the ability to grow and have joy.

    I can see why you don’t look at it this way. Ideas of premortal existence, an earth with “works,” and blessings and growth are not part of the teachings you embrace.

    2. Why would Satan risk Adam and Eve having their eyes opened and run the risk of some of mankind reaching godhood? How much Satan knew about God’s plan is uncertain. His knowledge certainly was limited (Moses 4:6). Even if Satan knew some of God’s children might obtain godhood, he was willing to risk losing some if he could ply his trade and gain many. The whole point of The LDS Church is to thwart Satan’s plan by building the kingdom of God on earth.

    3. How do you feel our earthly experience could have happened without Adam and Eve keeping the first commandment to “multiply, and replenish the earth” (Gen. 1:28)? Your view of “the Fall” does not even allow for mankind to be born and have an earthly mortal experience. The Book of Mormon says: “Adam [and Eve] fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25).

  26. Ethan permalink
    June 15, 2009 5:53 pm

    You have just stated that you would be okay with Romans simply being wrong since it appears to contradict LDS scriptures. How is this “convincing” people that God’s Word is true?

    You can believe the Bible’s message is “true” and still maintain that certain shysters over the years have taken liberties. The 8th article of faith of the LDS Church states that “We believe the Bible as far as it is translated correctly.” Joseph Smith wrote, “I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.” This case has also been made by many protestant scholars, the evidence is simply too strong.

    This is not “anti-Bible” as some say. If you read closely, the Bible actually never claims to be infallible, nor does the Book of Mormon. Anyone claiming this is assuming. Such a reality is only a disorienting prospect for those who use the Bible alone, which those in the Bible NEVER did. All the evidence we have from biblical cultures screams out prophetic/divine life-lines of teaching in ADDITION to using historical texts. Cover to cover this is the trend.

    What is the method of God in the Bible?

    Outside of salvation in Jesus, the strongest message in the Bible is that from Adam to Paul, it was God calling men to speak for Him. Book after book has come down showing God’s preferred pattern of teaching. There is no evidence in the Bible that a group ever only had one Bible, which didn’t even exist for the early Christian church! Not having prophets or apostles is terrifically un-biblical and any culture without this pattern is in fundamental violation of biblical precedent. I would not support this view with just one verse but literally EVERY verse in the Bible. In other words, no verse in the Bible is WITHOUT evidence for this view. Here are some explicit ones:

    Amos 3:7 “Surely the Lord God does nothing Unless He reveals His secret counsel To His servants the prophets.”
    Mal 3:6 “For I am the Lord, I change not”

    God does not change. Is your religious culture still biblical or has God changed?

  27. germit permalink
    June 15, 2009 6:06 pm

    Ethan: I can’t really say much more that ‘weird theology” to your explanation of the fall. The sticking point is not kids or procreation, it’s sin , and what sin is. After your reshuffling of the Garden events, the”sin” of Adam and Eve ends up being choosing to grow, choosing to be mortal (big assumption that they weren’t ALREADY mortal), and choosing to have joy. Bizarre. Later in the scriptures we’re told that the fruit of the SPIRIT is ….joy. This is some bizarre category of “sin”, where they help GOD along, and fulfill HIS highest wishes…by doing exactly what HE said not to do.

    There are some LDS ideas and theology that are remarkably close to orthodox christianity…the Garden scene is certainly not one of them. Most LDS would say, “well, good for us” I suppose.

  28. Ethan permalink
    June 15, 2009 6:37 pm

    Germit,
    How is it weird when everything is spelled out in Genesis? It isn’t like LDS are whipping things out of nothing here. Our view of the Fall is firmly rooted in the creation drama text that you study as well.

    “Choosing to grow,” a natural idea that you seem to reject oddly, could not be more explicit in the very idea of gaining “Knowledge of good and evil.” The tree symbolism itself has the clear answer.

    You agree that God commanded them not to eat of it. Do you also agree that God intended mankind to remain as intellectual infants? If they had not eaten the fruit they never could have learned, nor could they have obeyed the second command to have kids. Do you believe mankind was intended to remain in the garden of Eden as innocent children? We let our kids enjoy time in the nursery, learning to make choices, but heaven forbid they never grow up! I submit that your view of our nature is the unnatural, forced one.

    I love the way the vital doctrines of eternal prgression are foreshadowed and mentioned right from the beginning of the Bible.

    big assumption that they weren’t ALREADY mortal

    Gen 2:17 “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Meaning if you eat your death (mortality) will be made sure. Eating was the catalyst. Obviously, before they ate this was not “surely” going to happen. How is that weird?

  29. June 15, 2009 7:23 pm

    When one realizes that the freedom to choose is God’s greatest gift to mankind, and that one of the purposes of life is to learn to make correct choices, then one begins to see the purpose of the Fall. God gave Adam and Eve the option of staying in the Garden or becoming mortal.

    Hi Ethan,

    I definitely believe that God gives us the freedom to choose. I also believe what He has revealed about Himself in the Bible – that He doesn’t tempt humans to sin.

    That’s why I don’t believe the LDS account of the Fall is true. In the LDS account God did not give them a choice to be obedient. Either choice they made was going to be in direct violation of one of the commands since the commands are mutually exclusive in the LDS scriptures.

    If they had not eaten the fruit they never could have learned, nor could they have obeyed the second command to have kids.

    I’m assuming you are referring to the LDS account again. Remember, in the Biblical account it never says they could only have children if they ate of the fruit. Procreation is a gift for a man and wife – not a sin.

  30. Ethan permalink
    June 15, 2009 7:35 pm

    Jessica,
    Another very interesting take on this paradox, that I’ve only heard from LDS, is the idea that God was INTRODUCING the familiar idea that EVERY choice has a consequence for good and/or evil. In other words, right from the outset God was teaching his kids about life.

    I would argue that it even illustrates the gray area complexities of tough choices that are both good and evil. Should a US soldier kill a Nazi who is about to blow up his entire platoon? There is no black and white “clear” right and wrong here. That’s the way life is folks and Adam is getting a primer for what’s to come. I view a lesson here on discerning the lesser of two evils to be brilliant theology.

    I agree with Boyd K. Packer:

    Whatever else happened in Eden, in his supreme moment of testing, Adam made a choice. After the Lord commanded Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth and commanded them not to partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, He said: “Nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Moses 3:17).

    In other words: he’s saying “look kids, here is the path to knowledge/progress. But it means you will have to die (pass through mortality and suffer). Do you still want this opportunity? I won’t force you.” In this light, the idea of “disobeying” God by eating is more of

    Packer continues:

    God could not place man into mortality by force. That would contravene the very law essential to the plan. The plan provided that each spirit child of God would receive a mortal body and each would be tested. Adam saw that it must be so and made his choice.

    Those scriptural words, “Thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee” (Moses 3:17), introduced Adam and Eve and their posterity to all the risks of mortality. In mortality men are free to choose, and each choice begets a consequence. The choice Adam made energized the law of justice, which required that the penalty for disobedience would be death.

    But those words spoken at the trial, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above” (John 19:11), proved mercy was of equal rank. A redeemer was sent to pay the debt and set men free. That was the plan.

  31. Ethan permalink
    June 15, 2009 7:46 pm

    Jessica,
    Sorry for the lenghty posts. Thanks for hearing me out.

    What about your views, how do you see the Fall? Do you think Adam & Eve were meant to remain innocent in the garden, or that the “sin” was planned?

    Also, I still don’t have a logical answer to the Satan paradox. Did an all-knowing God unleash the devil willingly to tempt us? I don’t see how God is not responsible for ALL sin in that view.

    ps – Happy monday!!!!

  32. NChristine permalink
    June 15, 2009 8:04 pm

    Hi Ethan,

    You made two important statements about the Fall:

    If they had not eaten the fruit they never could have learned, nor could they have obeyed the second command to have kids.

    The second statement Jessica has already answered. It is the LDS Scriptures, not the Bible, that set up this idea that Adam and Eve could never have had children if they had not eaten the fruit. This seems like a non sequitur. While certainly we aren’t given specifics, there is nothing in the Bible to indicate that they were unable to obey the command to “multiply” without disobeying the other. It almost seems to imply that originally Adam and Eve were not human.

    The first statement (if they had not eaten the fruit they could never have learned) assumes the idea that in order to grow and learn, one must know evil through participation and personal experience. But note the apostle Paul’s command:

    I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil (Romans 16:19).

    Interestingly enough, Paul was clearly referring to the situation in the Garden, for in the next verse he mentions that God will “bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (see Genesis 3:15). The logic that says disobedience brings wisdom is the serpent’s logic. Paul’s logic, on the other hand, is that you don’t have to know evil experientially in order to be truly wise.

  33. June 15, 2009 8:22 pm

    “Do you also agree that God intended mankind to remain as intellectual infants? If they had not eaten the fruit they never could have learned, nor could they have obeyed the second command to have kids. Do you believe mankind was intended to remain in the garden of Eden as innocent children?”

    Why would they not be able to have children? As Jessica and Christine pointed out above, this is an LDS idea and is not supported by The Bible.

    Darrell

  34. Ethan permalink
    June 15, 2009 9:05 pm

    It’s obvious. Adam and Eve received the command to multiply without knowing how. Although the Bible is silent either way, there is reasonable cause to follow this train of thought. First of all, the Bible tells us that Adam and Eve didn’t even know what it meant to be nude. Therefore, it would logically follow that they didn’t understand the process of procreation either.

    I did a quick google to see if LDS are alone in this. They are not. Turns out that Tatian, an early Christian apologist pointed out that AFTER Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they became sexually aware: “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” Others agreed that the accuracy of this interpretation is proved in Gen 4:1, where the Hebrew verb ‘to know’ (yada) connotes sexual intercourse: “Adam knew his wife, and she conceived and bore a son.” Sex clearly began AFTER the fruit of “knowledge.”

    In fact, Clement of Alexandria taught that it was God who led Adam and Eve, “like the irrational animals to procreate.” Clement also blamed Adam’s sin on his desire to acquire the fruits of marriage (multiply his seed). Adam was at a crossroads. He was commanded to procreate while also being commanded to stay away from learning the means. God set the scene where Adam had no choice but to transgress. Whatever Adam chose to do, sin would enter into the world, and the fall would have taken place either way. With this understanding in mind we can see that it is God who is in control. Do you really think mankind was capable of derailing God’s plan??

    You may not agree with these Christians, but they make valid non-LDS cases and I share their view of the Bible.

  35. Ethan permalink
    June 15, 2009 9:11 pm

    Allow me to turn the tables. What would have happened if Adam and Eve had never partaken of the fruit? I doubt God wanted them to disobey because He likes disobedience, but rather, because it is part of His plan. You can’t fault us with this logic anymore than you can fault your own logic when trying to explain away the fact that God allows sin in the first place. If God is truly omnipotent, then why didn’t He kill sin on day one, by making its existence impossible? Why allow Satan if temptation is not beneficial to us? The answer to this question is the heart of what you are criticism us for.

    Temptation offers a means for moral development. The apostle Peter seemed to understand this truth when he said our temptations on Earth were worth more than gold:

    Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. (1 pet. 1:6-7)

    Jessica, The fallacious presentation of this false dilemma (double-bind) continues if you assert that Mormonism teaches that the disobedience in the Garden was necessary, while Christainity believes Adam and Eve had the choice to obey or disobey God’s commands. Again, how does the Christian perspective conflict with the LDS? Latter-day Saints believe both!

  36. June 15, 2009 9:13 pm

    Ethan,

    I have read the comments you posted by Packer. How would a Mormon answer this question, “What is the chief end of man?” Just to be fair a confessional Protestant would answer, “Man’s Chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.”

    I was wondering where Packer gets this, “God could not place man into mortality by force.”

    From my perspective you have turned the creation account upside down from being God centered to man centered, just an observation.

    I read you comment about prophets too. I think if you look at redemptive history as detailed in the Bible more often than not there was no recorded prophets and a uninterrupted succession of prophets certainly does not have a strong biblical precedent.

  37. Ethan permalink
    June 15, 2009 9:40 pm

    gundek:
    I would assert that what’s good for a son is good for a father. When the kid hits a home-run, dad’s ecstatic. When the kid falls short of his potential, his dad laments.

    I would sum it up with my favorite, most hopeful scripture. God is speaking here:

    “Behold, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Moses 1:39

    Our success is his glory. In this view both are edified. Again, the best example is the one that God organized right under our noses to remind us of this truth. Family units, on earth as it is in heaven. Parents and children. You could say a dad’s view of life here is to give his son all that he has. To be like Him, that is how we honor our father. Making Earth about OUR progress does not diminish the glory of God. “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Mat 5;48

    a uninterrupted succession of prophets certainly does not have a strong biblical precedent.

    We agree. LDS call them “dispensations.” Cycles of truth and apostasy that have been the hallmark of Bible culture. If you mean the current streak of LDS prophets, there were longer ones in the Bible. We teach that this is the last dispensation and there will not be another apostasy before Christ returns. Joseph Smith’s calling is similar to Biblical examples. Here is an Evangelical link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dispensationalism

  38. June 15, 2009 9:48 pm

    How can you know that this is the last dispensation and there will not be another apostasy before Christ returns, if the freedom to choose is God’s greatest gift to mankind it is logical to assume from your prespective that another apostacy may be comoming or already happened.

  39. June 15, 2009 10:09 pm

    Oh, I always keep that possibility in mind Gundeck.

    As for Packer, he is merely making a logical statement. If God did place man in a state of mortality by coercion and force, he would be a jerk – and therefore – no longer God.

    Kind of like how Evangelicals have a rule that God has to be omnipotent – otherwise he wouldn’t be God. Logical statements here.

  40. Stephanie permalink
    June 15, 2009 11:35 pm

    Hi Ethan,

    If it is true that the fall was required for procreation it would follow that there is something innately sinful about sex between a husband and wife. Nowhere in Scripture is this picture seen. The author of Hebrews writes, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled” (13:4). Song of Solomon, unless interpreted very allegorically, describes the pure relationship of a man and wife. In fact it goes into such detail that some people have joked that a person should be at least 30 before they read the book. There are different examples in Scripture of sexual immorality—fornication, sleeping with your mother-in-law, etc. However, nowhere can I think of is the sexual relationship between and man and wife considered dirty. I’ve always believed that the reason Adam and Eve didn’t procreate prior to the fall was that they hadn’t lived in a state of innocence very long!

    Stephanie

  41. June 15, 2009 11:51 pm

    “If it is true that the fall was required for procreation it would follow that there is something innately sinful about sex between a husband and wife.”

    This is Ethan’s argument and I’ll let him make it.

    But Stephanie, I don’t think that logically follows at all.

  42. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 12:49 am

    Hi Stephanie,

    It is not the “Fall” that is required to have sex (ie, being in a lower state because it’s dirty). It is the KNOWLEDGE of the procreation process that is lacking prior to the fall. The fruit of the tree of “knowledge of good and evil) is symbolic for understanding or learning. So it does not imply anything about whether sex is good or bad, just that they did not know it.

    Once they partake their eyes are open, “becoming like the gods, knowing good and evil.” See the difference?

    The LDS would certainly agree with that view that sex is not sinful in the least. In fact, LDS often take flak for our view of the role of sexual gender in the next life. We discussed it in another post about what the role of male/female bodies will be after the resurrection. Why keep the relics of Earthly gender if there is no sex/procreation? I have not heard a good answer from Protestants.

  43. June 16, 2009 1:10 am

    “Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they became sexually aware: “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.” Others agreed that the accuracy of this interpretation is proved in Gen 4:1, where the Hebrew verb ‘to know’ (yada) connotes sexual intercourse: “Adam knew his wife, and she conceived and bore a son.” Sex clearly began AFTER the fruit of “knowledge.””

    Ethan,

    “Yada” is a Hebrew word which carries many meanings. Yet you appear to be making the case it is only understood in a sexual sense.

    1. In Deut 34:10 Yada is used in referencing God’s “knowledge” of man. I hardly think it is taling about God sexually knowing man.

    2. In Psalms 1:6 Yada is used in referencing how God “watches over” man. Again, is this referencing God watching over us in a sexual manner?

    3. In Genesis 25:27 Yada is used in referencing Esau’s “skill” as a hunter. Did he have sexual skill as a hunter?

    4. In Isaiah 29:12 Yada is used in referencing man’s “knowledge” in reading. Is this a sexual reading knowledge?

    5. In 2 Ch 8:18 Yada is used in referencing “skill” in sailing. Is this a sexual skill in sailing?

    6. In 1 Sa 16:16 Yada is used in referencing “skill” in playing an instrument. Is this instrument played in a sexual context?

    Trust me, I could keep going, as this word is used numerous times in The Old Testament, and very, very few times is it used to reference sexual knowledge. Bottom line, Yada, as many Hebrew words, must be interpreted in context. To automatically assume the word is referencing “sexual” knowledge without first reading the verse in context is bad hermeneutics.

    Let’s look at the text regarding the fall in context. In Genesis 3:5, the word Yada is used referencing God’s “KNOWLEDGE” that when man eats of the tree of knowledge he would die. This is clearly not referring to God’s sexual knowledge. In addition, this verse also uses “Yada” to refer to the very knowledge the tree would bestow upon man, the knowledge of good and evil. This is clearly not refering to “sexual knowledge”. Therefore, why are we to assume that just 2 verses later, when “YADA” is used in this verse referencing the “KNOWLEDGE” the tree gave them of their nakedness it is referring to a “SEXUAL KNOWLEDGE?” This makes no sense.

    The proper way to interpret the use of “Yada” in verse 7 is exactly the way it was used 2 verses earlier when describing the knowledge they would receive… the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve became aware and embarrased about their nakedness because they now understood it from a “sinful” perspective. Nakedness and sex between a husband and wife is not sinful, yet when man’s knowledge became polluted by sin, they looked upon themselves differently. There is no reason to take out of this text that they were incapable of sex prior to the fall.

    You are reading something into the text which is not there. I understand your desire to do so, as you are approaching the text with an a priori opinon as to what it says. Nevertheless, to state The Bible says Adam and Eve could not obey The Lord’s command to procreate without first partaking of the forbidden fruit, thereby sinning, is simply false and a result of bad hermeneutics.

    Darrell

  44. June 16, 2009 1:17 am

    “Once they partake their eyes are open, “becoming like the gods, knowing good and evil.” See the difference?”

    I just thought I would point out that Christians don’t believe the promise of satan was truthful. We trust what God said about partaking of the fruit not what satan said. It would have been much better had they not partaken (not saying I wouldn’t of done so had I been there… I would have fallen just as easily as Adam and Eve did). We just trust God on the matter and not satan. It would have been much better for all of mankind had we obeyed God and not fallen for satan’s lies. I do find it interesting that LDS believe satan was telling the truth and that God was lieing or at a minimum giving Adam and Eve a “wink-wink” while telling them not to partake.

    God: Don’t partake of the fruit

    Satan: Partake and you shall become like God

    LDS: Let’s obey satan. He is telling the truth and God really doesn’t want us to obey.

    Christian: No, let’s obey God. We can trust Him.

    LDS: Not really, He hasn’t told us but He really wants us to partake and satan is the one telling the REAL truth.

    VERY INTERESTING.

    Darrell

  45. June 16, 2009 1:30 am

    Seth,

    It would only be a logical statement if we disregard biblical testimony that we are the creation of God the term used in Gen 2:7 is “formed” (Hebrew yatsar) and is the term used to refer to an artists work. “yatsar” is also related to “yotser” or the work of the potter(Jer 18:2-4, 8; Isaiah 29:16; Isaiah 64:8 (Paul used this same illustration in Romans 9:21)). This is just the creation of the body, we are told that God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life…” The Hebrew word nÿshamah is used for this animating “breath of life” it is only used for humans, it is the same word used in Job 32:8 (as long as my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils) and Proverbs 20:27 for “the human spirit” (The human spirit is like the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.)

    To liken the artistry of God in his creation to “coercion and force” is not all that logical.

  46. Stephanie permalink
    June 16, 2009 1:39 am

    Ethan, you said,
    “Why keep the relics of Earthly gender if there is no sex/procreation? I have not heard a good answer from Protestants.”

    Jesus addressed this question that was posed to him by the Sadducees, “Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven” (Mark 12:25). I would venture to suggest that the reason we will not be procreating in heaven is because the purpose will be lost. The symbolism of marriage in the world today is a picture of the relationship of Christ to the church. “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Rev. 19:7-8). The importance of this relationship cannot be overstated. Paul refers to this divine spiritual union as a “great mystery” (Eph. 5:32). Further, Heaven is a place where God is the ultimate focus, not us. Revelation 21 gives an awe-inspiring view of a place that is lit by His own light. The temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb. I find no mention of eternal marriage in the Scripture and it seems to me that the focus of this doctrine is incorrect. The spotlight of heaven will not be on us and the things that we enjoy in this life—we are given new bodies and our minds will be transformed. We will be able to be in the presence of the God of the universe. What could be more glorious than that?

  47. germit permalink
    June 16, 2009 2:42 am

    Ethan: one ooops: I meant “PHYSICAL”, and not “MORTAL”…. obviously, mortality came thru the fall, but I”d argue that having physical body, and with it sexuality, was NOT due to fall, but pre-dates it. I think NChristine noted that this has ramifications about how a person could view sex. I thoroughly disagree that the tree of good and evil was basically about learning and growing, as if ADAM and EVE would not have had that opportunity had they not disobeyed GOD. We don’t know what their lives would have been like without the disobedience, but assuming that they would therefore not learn or grow is something read INTO the text, there’s no good reason to assume that, at least none that I see.

    I haven’t followed this thread as closely as I should, but I’m still seeing a mixing of two themes: free will (choosing)…which seems to be GOD’s idea to begin with; and sin, or what it means to choose evil….which GOD allowed for without causing (HE planned around it, not desiring it to happen)

    this seems to be a major area of disagreement between us, at least in some of the important particulars

    GERMIT

  48. June 16, 2009 3:06 am

    Another interesting thought I had on this subject. The LDS position is God gave two commandments in the garden and that is was impossible to keep both:

    1. Procreate / multiply and replenish the earth

    2. NOT partake of the forbidden fruit

    This position actually VIOLATES what the BOM teaches in 1 Nephi 3:7.

    “…for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

    If IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP BOTH OF THESE COMMANDMENTS AT THE SAME TIME then this verse is a lie. So, is the BOM wrong? Did the Lordnot provide a way for Adam and Eve to keep both commandments? Was it really necessary to break one of the commandements in order to keep the other?

    Darrell

  49. June 16, 2009 3:08 am

    Yeah Darrell, we Mormons all say follow Satan instead of God.

    Right…

    Which is much better than Evangelicals who turned Satan INTO their God.

    You want to talk utter crap, then lets dance.

  50. Stephanie permalink
    June 16, 2009 3:25 am

    This position actually VIOLATES what the BOM teaches in 1 Nephi 3:7.

    “…for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

    Wow Darrell, good point.

  51. June 16, 2009 3:29 am

    “If IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO KEEP BOTH OF THESE COMMANDMENTS AT THE SAME TIME then this verse is a lie.”

    Wow! That’s a really good point, Darrell! This is on the LDS Scripture Mastery List, isn’t it?

  52. NChristine permalink
    June 16, 2009 4:52 am

    Hi Ethan,

    You said this:

    Temptation offers a means for moral development. The apostle Peter seemed to understand this truth when he said our temptations on Earth were worth more than gold:

    Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. (1 pet. 1:6-7)

    I have to admit, I find this line of thinking really shocking. 🙂 The NT makes a huge, huge difference between “temptation” and “sin.” That is, the trial of our faith may be precious (though in this context the “temptations” are persecution). However, that does not mean that giving into temptation is precious! Indeed, we are told that Jesus was “tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

    Jesus’ 40-day temptation provides a perfect case study for how the Garden scene could have played out. Jesus was tempted in the same ways that Adam and Eve were: with food, with doubting/testing God’s words, and with personal glory. However, His temptation was in a wilderness, theirs in a Garden. His circumstances involved privation, theirs involved plenty. He did not succumb, they obviously did. Now let me ask…who obeyed God? Did Adam and Eve really have to disobey? Jesus did not have to, and He did not! While Christ’s temptation was obviously part of God’s plan (and thus He allowed Satan to tempt His Son), it was not part of His plan for Jesus to succumb to the temptation! Indeed, God giving people free will that allowed them to choose sin is a lightyear away from Him wanting them to sin! His Son’s example shows exactly what He wanted!

  53. June 16, 2009 10:40 am

    Seth,

    My point is this… in the garden God told man not to partake of the forbidden fruit. Despite the fact The Bible clearly teaches this LDS believe that what satan said – “for you shall become like God knowing good from evil” – is the real truth. Where in The Bible does in teach that God REALLY WANTED ADAM to partake of the fruit? NO WHERE! God said, “Don’t partake!” Yet despite this fact LDS believe Satan was the one being completely honest NOT God.

    Christians, on the otherhand, DO NOT believe satan was telling the truth. We believe God was telling the truth. Afterall, God is a God of truth. Satan is the Father of Lies.

    I just find it interesting that LDS believe, at least in the garden encounter, satan over God.

    Darrell

  54. June 16, 2009 1:42 pm

    All I see is another opportunistic Evangelical ideologue taking a strained reading of Genesis account and turning it into a rhetorical club.

    Just because Satan said it doesn’t mean it was wrong. Contrary to Evangelical myths, Satan is not pure unadulterated evil. Not everything he says has to be 100% false. Otherwise he would be incapable of half-truths – which LDS theology holds him to be a master of.

    His statement that Eve would be as the gods was true. Half true, but true nonetheless. Neither has God seen fit to contradict his words on this subject. His statement that she would not die was, of course, false – but also half true in its way as well.

    If we take your mindset to it’s full application Darrell, we would have to conclude that Jesus is not the Son of God either – because a demon declared he was.

    This is a stupid argument and an opportunistic caricature play on your part. If you want to keep at it, fine. Then we can talk about the narcissistic, puppet master you worship. You can cry “Satan.” I can cry “Satan.” And then we can both pompously stomp off to our own little theological corners secure in the knowledge that we’ve utterly wasted everyone’s time.

  55. June 16, 2009 2:03 pm

    Seth,

    I am not talking about satan saying “you would be as god” specifically. I am not approaching this in regards to theosis. I am talking about satan’s overall message that Adam and Eve SHOULD partake because it was the RIGHT thing to do. God said “Don’t partake,” period. Satan said, “Partake, it is good.”. LDS believe satan, whereas Christians believe God. I am not sure how you can take God saying “Don’t partake” as anything other than God saying “Don’t partake”. Yet LDS still choose to believe satan was telling the truth that you SHOULD partake and God was really giving a commandment that HE WANTED YOU TO BREAK and, in fact, accordingto your theology knew you could not keep (which as I pointed out above VIOLATES your very own BOM scripture).

    Darrell

  56. June 16, 2009 2:05 pm

    “strained reading of Genesis”

    Yeah, God saying “Don’t partake” and us actually believing He meant it really is a strained reading. 🙂

    Nice try, Seth!

    Darrell

  57. June 16, 2009 2:19 pm

    I always viewed Nephi’s statement as one of faith rather than categorical dogma.

    Neither do I get a message of unambiguous approval for Adam and Eve from LDS teaching.

    The message I always received was that they messed up, but that it wasn’t the unqualified disaster that traditional Christianity claims it was. God’s plans cannot be thwarted. And for all their faults, our first parents were still great people.

    That’s the message I get from the LDS story.

    As for Ethan’s theories about sex… that’s his argument. Not mine.

    Incidentally, if you look at the wording in the temple narrative (I’m pretty much fine with discussing SOME aspects of temple worship), you don’t really get the sense that sex was impossible in Eden. What you do see is Eve explaining to Adam that she has disobeyed and will therefore be cast out – leaving Adam alone in the garden. Obviously sex would be impossible in THAT instance. Thus Adam decides to eat so that humanity may be.

    Furthermore, Eve only comes to her realization that eating the fruit had an ultimately positive role in God’s plans years later after their exile. It wasn’t something she appears to have understood at the time she did it.

    Eve ate the fruit because she desired to pursue knowledge and wisdom on her own – independent of the Father. Such an act of independence – and the resulting estrangement from God – was necessary. But it is also something that needs to be corrected and overcome. Which is what the Atonement is about.

  58. June 16, 2009 2:40 pm

    “I always viewed Nephi’s statement as one of faith rather than categorical dogma.”

    So you believe God gives commandments that man cannot possibly keep? Therefore, you accept the LDS idea of God putting Adam and Eve in a “double-bind?”

    “Such an act of independence – and the resulting estrangement from God – was NECESSARY.” (emphasis mine)

    This is an important distinction. Where, in The Bible narrative, do you get this teaching? God said, “Don’t partake!” Why would He give us a commandment that He really wanted us to break? Why would He tell us to obey a commandment which:

    1. Was impossible (if you believe they could not have children without breaking it) – this is directed more toward Ethan.

    2. It was NECESSARY to break

    I can’t get past the idea that God under your theology, for all intents and purposes, lied to Adam and Eve. Or, at a minimum, was giving them a “wink-wink” while saying, “I know I am telling you not to partake, but, remember what we talked about prior to you coming to this earth. You really need to disregard what I am saying and do what satan tells you do do.”

    This teaching exists nowhere in The Bible. God said, “Don’t partake.”. Why should we not take Him at His word and actually believe He meant it?

    Darrell

  59. GERMIT permalink
    June 16, 2009 4:17 pm

    Seth wrote:

    The message I always received was that they messed up, but that it wasn’t the unqualified disaster that traditional Christianity claims it was

    well here’s my question then: you say “messed up” , what does that mean, like lying, stealing, murder, “messed up”……or some other kind of “messed up”; we both agree that GOD can, and does find a way to get a good outcome out of ANYTHING, but is the act of eating the fruit here an act of EVIL ? or something else ??

    GERMIT

  60. GERMIT permalink
    June 16, 2009 5:07 pm

    Seth wrote:

    Eve ate the fruit because she desired to pursue knowledge and wisdom on her own – independent of the Father. Such an act of independence – and the resulting estrangement from God – was necessary..

    so it was a ‘necessary evil’ ???

    GERMIT

  61. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 5:41 pm

    Seth:
    “All I see is another opportunistic Evangelical ideologue taking a strained reading of

    Genesis account and turning it into a rhetorical club.” Bingo. Semantics-palooza. I hold

    that our interpretation of these pasages and doctrines is solid AND valid. I believe our

    view is more logical on many levels. Welcome to Nacaea.

    See above, I don’t want to re-type out my entire argument. I have made my case and I believe it stands as a sensible interpretation. Actually, none of your responses have definitively proven that it is wrong. You are still operating on assumptions. I see the philosophies of men being mingled with scripture. We need an objective jury to decide

    since no one here will see reason.

    I’ll post follow ups below to comments that I think require responses:

  62. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 5:42 pm

    Darrell:
    In 1 Nep 3:7, Nephi is being faced with an extremely daunting task, this is just him sucking in his breath and saying, “you know what, if the Lord says I gotta do this, I’m gonna go. It’s gonna work out.” It is an expression of immense faith and trust. That’s the context, nothing more. BTW, the “yada” argument wasn’t mine, those were traditional Christian views.

    The way you elevate the Bible (product of humans) to godhood is a bad approach. We are to worship our God, not the Bible. You diefy “The Word.” We are commanded to not worship idols and have no other Gods besides the PHYSICAL God. If you maintain the BOM contradicts, what about these:

    MT 6:13 God might lead us into temptation and it is better avoided.
    JA 1:2-3 Temptation is joy.

    MT 6:13 Jesus’ prayer implies that God might lead us into temptation.
    JA 1:13 God tempts no one.

    MT 6:25-34, LK 12:22-31 Take no thought for tomorrow. God will take care of you.
    1TI 5:8 A man who does not provide for his family is worse than an infidel. (Note: Providing for a family certainly involves taking “thought for tomorrow.”)

    MT 7:1-2 Do not judge.
    MT 7:15-20 Instructions for judging a false prophet.

    MT 27:5 Judas hanged himself.
    AC 1:18 He fell headlong, burst open, and his bowels gushed out.

    MT 7:21 Not everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
    AC 2:21, RO 10:13 Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
    AC 2:39 Those God calls to himself will be saved.

    MT 27:11-14 Jesus answers not a single charge at his hearing before Pilate.
    JN 18:33-37 Jesus answers all charges at his hearing before Pilate.

    AC 10:34, RO 2:11 God shows no partiality. He treats all alike.
    RO 9:11-13 God hated Esau and loved Jacob even before their birth.

    There are hundreds, the Bible is full of logical fallacies. It’s not anti-Bible, it’s anti-idol. The difference is LDS don’t pretend the Bible/BOM are infallible. You do and frankly it’s a hopeless fight.

  63. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 5:48 pm

    NChristine:

    “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold” I don’t see how you can say this means anything other than having our faith “tried” (by temptation) is good for our character.

    I absolutely hold to my take that the words of Paul in 1 Pet 1:6-7 show he was certainly speaking about how our trials in life make us stronger. The lord actually echoes it best to Joseph Smith when he was imprisoned for five months without a trial, around the time that the only extermination order in US histry was issued authorizing the government to slaughter the Mormons in Missouri:

    D&C 122:7 “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?”

  64. Webster permalink
    June 16, 2009 5:48 pm

    “…for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

    So, are you saying that Adam and Eve are “the children of men”? The above quote says “children of men” (better read more carefully). It sounds like that only would apply to people in mortality. Be careful with the arguements you make.

  65. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 5:49 pm

    Darell:

    I just thought I would point out that Christians don’t believe the promise of satan was truthful.

    Neither do LDS. Let me rehash what I wrote above since you missed it.

    You keep telling us that according to Mormonism, Satan told the truth in the Garden of Eden while according to Christainity, Satan deceived Adam and Eve. In truth, Latter-day Saints believe that Satan both lied and told the truth. Genesis has ample evidence for both the lie and the truth which was verified by God. In essence, the successful satanic method of mixing truth with falsehood has eluded you, you’re unkowingly applying this very tactic of Satan with your summation! You tell partial truth (The LDS believe Satan told the truth) while suggesting a falsehood for comparison (The LDS do not believe Adam and Eve were deceived).

    This fallacious presentation of the false “double-bind” dilemma continues when you and Jessica assert that Mormonism teaches that the disobedience in the Garden was necessary, while Christainity believes “Adam and Eve had the choice to obey or disobey God’s commands.” How does the alleged “Christian” perspective conflict with the LDS perspective mentioned by our authors? LDS believe both, it’s a straw man.

  66. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 5:50 pm

    Stephanie:

    they neither marry, nor are given in marriage

    Exactly, this is LDS doctrine that there will be no weddings after the resurrection. Like baptism, it will be too late for weddings then. However, the STATE of marriage itself can exist eternally.

    All three versions of this account consistently use the same words in the earliest Greek. In each version it says that “giving in marriage” will not occur after the time of the resurrection. Huge difference. It DOES NOT SAY that marriage, as an institution, will not exist. You are forcing your assumption on the text.

    The word translated as the ACT “to marry” is “gamousin.”
    If Jesus had wanted to rule out eternal marraige he would have used the STATE of the “married one,” which is “gamésas.”

    Jesus’ reply could have been addressed to you. It is ironic, and telling, that you are making the same mistake as Jesus’ attackers, the Sadducees.

    The allegory of the “marriage” that believers have to the Lord is purely symbolic. Christ is merely pulling out the strongest imagery he can be equating it to the sacred union between man and woman. If anything, this connection elevates marriage, Jesus apparently thinks marriage is worthy enough to be compared to our relationship with Him. Pretty important.

    As for the male/female bodies. I don’t buy it, too illogical. I can’t believe that we’ll be packing around glorified, resurrected genitalia for the eternities as dead weight. MAJOR oversight by God. You cannot tell me there is not purpose in the fact we retain them in heaven. Honestly, of all the “written” biblical text on this matter (which is subject to interpretation), no evidence is as strong as this physical reality. God has created it and made it so, plain for all to SEE, not read. Case closed due to the obvious.

  67. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 5:52 pm

    Let me ask this again:
    Allow me to turn the tables. What would have happened if Adam and Eve had never partaken of the fruit? Do you believe God was derailed by A&E??? Not a very powerful God.

    I assert that God wanted them to disobey not because He likes disobedience, but rather, because it is part of HIS plan. You give A&E too much credit. You can’t fault us with this logic anymore than you can fault your own logic when trying to explain away the fact that God allows sin in the first place. If God is truly omnipotent, then why didn’t He kill sin on day one, by making its existence impossible? Why allow Satan if temptation and learning is not beneficial to us?

    You claim the Fall was not about learning. How else do you define “knowledge?” It was the tree of the FRUIT of KNOWLEDGE of good and evil (ways of the world). Of course the LDS view is more logical here.

  68. GERMIT permalink
    June 16, 2009 5:53 pm

    Ethan wrote:

    I doubt God wanted them to disobey because He likes disobedience, but rather, because it is part of His plan….

    and this is our disconnect, and the point that (to me) ETHAN has not established, or SETH,

    GOD working AROUND a sinful situation is one thing, GOD INTENDING a sinful situation, to achieve HIS ends is quite another. This gets at my question of the act of eating the fruit: how EVIL was it, really ?? Sort of evil ?? Quasi-evil ?? OR evil the way stealing and murder is evil ??

  69. GERMIT permalink
    June 16, 2009 6:00 pm

    You can’t fault us with this logic anymore than you can fault your own logic when trying to explain away the fact that God allows sin in the first place. If God is truly omnipotent, then why didn’t He kill sin on day one, by making its existence impossible? Why allow Satan if temptation and learning is not beneficial to us?

    I cant’ make an answer ‘satisfactory’ for you, and vica versa, but the logic of our position holds here: there is no such thing as choosing for good if choosing for bad is just not possible. And GOD did not create the devil, HE created a being who had the ability to choose to become a devil…there’s a world of difference between the two. AS someone who holds up (rightfully) free will and moral agency, I would think this would resonate with you…the fact that it doesn’t seem to puzzles me. And so with Adam and Eve: GOD wants beings that WORSHIP HIM, but this is meaningless if all their choices are made, or ARRANGED , for them.

    OUr understandings of WORSHIP, LOVE, and CHOOSING are meaningless (in the christian sense of the words) if the option for evil does not exist. Again, I can’t really help it if these are unsatisfactory ideas to you. I’ll hold it’s a better explanation that what we’ve gotten, so far, for the LDS Garden. But I’m a very biased judge, I’ll admit. 🙂

    GERMIT

  70. Stephanie permalink
    June 16, 2009 6:11 pm

    Hi Ethan,

    I can see that you’ve been busy! 🙂

    It is important to read the passage about the Sadducees in its context. The question they are asking is not “will there be marriage ceremonies in heaven?” If that were the question than I can see how your response would make sense. However, Mark 12:23 gives the actual question, “In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.” So, when we look at Jesus’ answer we have to read it in light of the actual QUESTION. Jesus said in the resurrection we would be, “as the angels which are in heaven” (v. 25). This does not mean that people will not remember who their spouse was or who their children were, but it indicates that the relationship of man and wife will no longer exist. Just as there is no marriage between angels there will not be marriage between people in heaven.

    Stephanie

  71. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 6:30 pm

    Germit,
    I agree with you that this can easily descend into a semantic nightmare. One fact I do know is God has allowed Satan in our midst, I assue that is for some purpose and I can’t reasonably think why unless it was somehow for our good.

    I do not think it was a “sin” in the murder, stealing sense. Perhaps there is more that we could discern from the difference between sin and transgression. Are they the same? I’m not so sure.

    What was the fruit? Is “knowledge” bad? I don’t think learning is bad. Theological seminaries dont’ think so. I have always believed that the Earth is sort of like God’s University, we’re born of our Father, we come of age and he sends us somewhere we can learn the hard knocks, between good & evil, and we grow up, graduate and go home to start our own careers. When we error in the process, our Father (via Jesus) intercedes and gets us back on track. This should not seem unnatural since this is the pattern God mirrored on Earth. I see it as a fascinating parallel, or microcosm, that God organized as a glimpse of the eternities.

    It’s similar to the testimony of Christ that is everywhere. He died, was buried and was resurrected. We see this every day in nature:
    The Sun rises, sets and rises again.
    Fall brings death to the landscape, Spring brings resurrection.
    In baptism we are buried and then risen.
    Caterpillars enter the “tomb” and come out glorified.
    And on an on…As if god is saying, how can you miss this?

    Be careful not to dismiss the “patterns” that God has set up all around that teach us principles. I don’t think their an accident. I would place family units, procreation and eternal progression in there as well. I for one see it all around.

    Webster:
    So, are you saying that Adam and Eve are “the children of men”?

    That’s excellent. I had not noticed that. I think we can all agree that the “trasngression” which occured in the Garden is in a class of it’s own anyway.

  72. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 6:35 pm

    Hey Steph:

    Just as there is no marriage between angels there will not be marriage between people in heaven

    I still have the same problem with this though. It never saus there will be no marraige realtionships in heaven, merely that none will be performed. Then there is still the semantic issue of what is an “angel” as Jesus is referring them here. It may end up neither of us is right, but I don’t see the text making a clear disticntion either way. It simply does not say that marraige will not exist. The Greek words I mentioned above are good evidence.

    I guess we’ll have to disagree on this one.

  73. June 16, 2009 6:46 pm

    Perhaps there is more that we could discern from the difference between sin and transgression. Are they the same? I’m not so sure.

    The terms transgression and sin are used interchangeably in Romans 5.

    1 John 3:4 says, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law.”

  74. June 16, 2009 6:56 pm

    It never saus there will be no marraige realtionships in heaven, merely that none will be performed.

    But the question wasn’t referring to marriage ceremonies. According to the hypothetical scenario posed to Jesus, the woman had already had the ceremonies performed on earth. The Sadducees were asking which marriage relationship the woman would belong to since she had been married on earth to all seven men. The question most certainly was not pertaining to marriage ceremonies because of the way it was asked: “whose wife shall she be?” This pertains to the marriage relationship, not a ceremony. The answer Jesus gave has HUGE implications for the LDS teachings on eternal marriage and the role of marriage in the plan of salvation.

  75. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 8:12 pm

    Apart from the fact that this passage proves that eternal marriage was a given among Jewish belief in biblical culture, since the Jews assumed she would be married after death, your point is still invalid if you were to maintain, as the LDS do, that eternal marriage is only binding through the right authoritative channels of a temple sealing (again, which appears to be a familiar concept to the Jews here). Jesus understood that such a marraige was not being performed during this time of apostasy. He, with his apostles, was restoring the true Church.

    LDS would point to the use of the words “mysteries of the Kingdom,” which get used a lot in the New Testament. Without delving too far into a tangent, some LDS believe it is the Temple and its power that is being referred to by the term “mysteries.”

  76. Webster permalink
    June 16, 2009 8:16 pm

    Was eating the fruit a, “transgression of the law,” and thus a sin, or was it simply a transgression (but not against some element of eternal law)? For instance, if I tell my son not to touch the stove lest he get burnt, did I make a household rule against touching the stove, or is it something I tell him to try to prevent a particular consequence. Will he be punished for touching the stove? He will be hurt, that’s a natural consequence, but will I send him to his room or ground him?

    Adam and Eve and all their offspring suffer the consequences of mortality (death, separation from God, living in a world of evil, etc.) because of the partaking of the tree. But it seems to me that the Atonement of Jesus Christ universally (at least the way I read it) overcomes that. All are resurrected. All return to God’s presence to be judged.

    I wonder if Adam and Eve would have to repent for something they did in Eden without knowledge. (Check the Bible. I think there is a connection between sin and knowledge.) If it were a sin, I would say they should repent. Yet I see the Atonement overcoming the effects of that initial ‘transgression’ without repentence. So I have to wonder. . . .

  77. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 8:30 pm

    Jessica,
    I forgot this point also. Since your last post was referring to the context of Jesus’ statement on marraige, it is VERY crucial to understand the underlying word choice found in the earliest Greek texts. The same word is used in all three accounts so there is no confusion, it’s the word for the ceremony or act of wedding. The word for the state of “being married” is not found in the text.

    Here it is again for clarification.

    The word translated as the ACT “to marry” is “gamousin.”
    The word for the STATE of the “married one” is “gamésas.”

    I think the literal wording selected by Jesus makes the strongest case for His meaning here.

  78. GERMIT permalink
    June 16, 2009 8:43 pm

    Ethan wrote:
    Fall brings death to the landscape, Spring brings resurrection

    yes, I see this pattern, and I also see JESUS learning ‘obedience through things suffered”… but HIS suffering was the suffering of OBEDIENCE in a FALLEN world….the pattern in the garden was man (thru Adam and Eve) DISOBEYING….and then GOD acting redemptively to clean it up…. BOTH patterns have GOD acting redemptively, but there are still big differences.

  79. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 8:51 pm

    Germit:
    I agree with that. It is also interesting that chronologically all of the types and symbols of Christ and His atoning sacrifice that are so prevelant in the natural world as testimonies were established in the creation drama in Gen 1 BEFORE mankind was even created. Implying that, if you believe these signs are no accident as I do, the plan was always to have a Fall and a restitution through Christ.

    In other words, by the time A&E ate the fruit and fell, these natural phenomena had been around for a long time. Just my view of God’s universe, but it makes sense to me.

  80. June 16, 2009 8:54 pm

    “I just thought I would point out that Christians don’t believe the promise of satan was truthful. ”

    “Neither do LDS. Let me rehash what I wrote above since you missed it.”

    Ethan,

    Allow me to clarify, as I realize based upon your comments that my statement is not clear. I apologize if it came across as a half-truth.

    I realize LDS do not believe ALL of what satan said in the garden was true. My point is that in the LDS theological system the overall message of satan in the garden – “partake of the fruit because it is GOOD to do so” – is true. I am well aware LDS do not believe satan was being truthful when he said, “You shall not surely die.” Now as to the idea of theosis – “you shall be as god” – LDS do teach he was being truthful. In addition, in the Temple Ceremony satan says, regarding partaking of the fruit, “for that is the way Father gained his knowledge”. Many LDS believe this to be true. I am curious, what is your opinion on this supposed statement of satan? Is it true or is it a lie? What of the past LDS prophets who have taught this as truth?

    Bottom line…

    Mormons believe satan was giving Adam and Eve the correct instructions, at least according to the LDS teachihng of the plan of salvation mapped out in the pre-mortal world, by telling them to partake of the fruit. On the otherhand, God was giving them a commandment He really wanted them to break. Unfortunately, none of these teachings are found within The Biblical text and, IMO, completely violate what The Bible says. To me, it is pretty simple. God said, “Don’t partake.” Therefore, partaking was NOT a good or necessary thing – it was a sin. God is a God of Truth. He does not tell us to do one thing while giving us a “wink’wink” because He really wants us to disobey Him.

    “In 1 Nep 3:7, Nephi is being faced with an extremely daunting task, this is just him sucking in his breath and saying, “you know what, if the Lord says I gotta do this, I’m gonna go. It’s gonna work out.” It is an expression of immense faith and trust. That’s the context, nothing more.”

    Just so I understand your perspective, are you saying Nephi was wrong when he said God gives NO commandment without providing a way for man to obey? So God can, and does, give commandments knowing perfectly well we cannot keep them?

    “The way you elevate the Bible (product of humans) to godhood is a bad approach. We are to worship our God, not the Bible. You diefy “The Word.””

    Ethan, unfortunately, you do not appear to grasp how I, or other Christians, view The Bible. We do not worship it nor to we deify it; however, we do trust what it says simply because GOD HAS TOLD US WE CAN TRUST HIS WORD. In addition, look at how Jesus used The Word to rebuke satan, the Pharisees, etc. God has told us His Word will not change until all is accomplished. I simply choose to trust what God has told over and above a man (JS) who “revealed” many things out of congruency with God’s already revealed word.

    Darrell

  81. GERMIT permalink
    June 16, 2009 8:55 pm

    Ethan…..dang you…if you AGREE, then we cant’ fight like rabid weasels….. and we had such a promising conversation going…..back to the drawing board….

    GERMIT

  82. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 9:27 pm

    Darrell,

    Mormons believe satan was giving Adam and Eve the correct instructions…by telling them to partake of the fruit. On the otherhand, God was giving them a commandment He really wanted them to break. Unfortunately, none of these teachings are found within The Biblical text…

    After they ate the fruit God Himself declared Gen 3;21 “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.”

    I literally cannot spell this out any more simply for you Darrell: The only way for A&E to learn & understand knowledge was to eat the fruit. The TREE ITSELF if the evidence for progress through learning. The Bible NEVER says the fruit was bad. Just that if they ate they would die (face mortality). A third grader knows that knowledge of good & evil is A VERY GOOD THING, something we spend much effort teaching our kids so they don’t break our hearts. If you think knowledge is evil then there’s no point debating.

    The best way I can prove it is to ask you what you believe would have happened if A&E had NOT eaten. Would they still be naked intellectual infants eating apricots and braiding lion hair? This is not God’s destiny for His children, LDS understand that.

    Life is about receiving the further light and knowledge that the God promised us.

    LDS scripture teaches that “The glory of God is intelligence.” If your faith does not teach that men have a destiny to gain further light and knowledge then no thank you. I say “uh, uh” to being a naked intellectual infant for eternity. What a peculiar God you have.

    Just so I understand your perspective, are you saying Nephi was wrong when he said God gives NO commandment without providing a way for man to obey?

    It says “God gives no commandment unto the children of men…” Do you think A&E were the “children of men.” This verse is specific about who it encompasses. I would argue that the events in the garden are not on par with the events on this mortal Earth and this is a case where that verse does not apply.

    I simply choose to trust what God has told over and above a man (JS) who “revealed” many things out of congruency with God’s already revealed word.”

    That is a popular opinion around these parts. You are free to hold it. However, I have seen plenty of convincing research that places JS and LDS doctrine soundly within biblical text and the pattern of biblical culture. Frankly, your traditional Protestant positions are really not on any firmer footing, it just seems so to you because that is how you argue them, the same way I do. You have no more authority to interpret than anyone else.

  83. GERMIT permalink
    June 16, 2009 9:55 pm

    I literally cannot spell this out any more simply for you Darrell: The only way for A&E to learn & understand knowledge was to eat the fruit. The TREE ITSELF if the evidence for progress through learning. The Bible NEVER says the fruit was bad. Just that if they ate they would die (face mortality). A third grader knows that knowledge of good & evil is A VERY GOOD THING, something we spend much effort teaching our kids so they don’t break our hearts. If you think knowledge is evil then there’s no point debating.

    Ethan: you are proving our point for us , here: do you want your kids to KNOW the evils of meth by taking meth ?? Is that the only way to KNOW evil ?? Lord, I hope not. Aren’t you hoping that your kids will learn some things from hearing it from Dad that’s it’s better to not touch x, y, and z …..trust me on this one kids ? It’s been mentioned, I think by Jessica, that the bible tells us “in evil , be babes….” so there are ways of KNOWING short of plunging in and partaking….we have no way of knowing how GOD would have fleshed out A and E’s education had they not eaten….but they did, and here we are… it’s reading into the text to ASSUME that they would NEVER have had ANY correct knowledge of evil had they not disobeyed; that’s not there in Genesis to be read, and more to the point, there is no case to be made to “do a little evil” in order to learn to be like GOD in the rest of scripture. That is just…..weird.

    GERMIT

  84. June 16, 2009 10:18 pm

    “The only way for A&E to learn & understand knowledge was to eat the fruit.”

    You are making an assumption here which is not spelled out nor indicated by The Bible. We have every indication that Adam and Eve had knowledge prior to the fall. Adam named the animals as well as Eve and tended the garden. He was given dominion over all the earth… would God make him ruler over all the earth if he was really an intellectual baby? Makes no sense.

    The Bible narrative teaches the tree simply gave them the knowledge of good VERSUS Evil – the contrast between good AND evil. It does not indicate that they were intellectual babies… sorry.

    “The best way I can prove it is to ask you what you believe would have happened if A&E had NOT eaten. Would they still be naked intellectual infants eating apricots and braiding lion hair? This is not God’s destiny for His children, LDS understand that.”

    This is a false dichotomy. As I indicated above, you need to prove to me and others that if they had not eaten the fruit they would have been intellectual infants. There is no indication that this is the case. I understand why you believe it, as it is taught by the Mormon Church. You are approaching The Bible with your opinion already being formed. Therefore, you are forced to make The Bible fit what you believe. Unfortunately, it is just going to do so.

    “The Bible NEVER says the fruit was bad. Just that if they ate they would die (face mortality).”

    Ethan, seriously, come on. God said. “Don’t partake!” He spends a few verses going over this very clear commandment. How can you possibly claim The Bible does not teach that partaking of the fruit is bad. Really?

    “If your faith does not teach that men have a destiny to gain further light and knowledge then no thank you. I say “uh, uh” to being a naked intellectual infant for eternity. What a peculiar God you have.”

    I believe learning and knowledge is a GREAT thing. You are building a straw man here. Again, PROVE TO ME FROM THE BIBLE THAT ADAM AND EVE COULD NOT HAVE LEARNED WITHOUT PARTAKING IN SIN. I don’t believe that is the case.

    Let me ask you a question, do you believe God has sinned? Given what you appear to be claiming, if He has not sinned then He really cannot be God because he must be an “intellectual infant”.

    I see you avoided my question about what the Temple Ceremony has to say about “how Father gained His knowledge” Do you believe God once went through a fall and partook of sin to gain His knowledge?

    Under the Christian paradigm, we don’t believe Adam and Eve had to “sin” to gain knowledge. They were perfectly capable of doing so while being perfect creations of God. Again, God is a God of Truth. Why would He say “Don’t Partake” if he really wanted us to and if it really was the plan for Adam and Eve to do so. You have NEVER ADDRESSED THIS POINT. Instead, you keep arguing what your opinions are all they while never addressing what God actually said.

    “It says “God gives no commandment unto the children of men…” Do you think A&E were the “children of men.””

    This is a really, really weak explanation and comes across as nothing more than a side step. Nevertheless, if it is the best you can do I will play along. So the rules were different for Adam and Eve? It was perfectly ok for God to put them in a double-bind and set them up for failure? The God I know would not do this… when He says “Don’t do something” I take Him at His word.

    Darrell

  85. June 16, 2009 10:33 pm

    It’s kind of amusing to hear an advocate for creation ex nihilo talking about God putting people in “double-binds” by the way.

  86. Stephanie permalink
    June 16, 2009 11:11 pm

    Hi Ethan,

    I googled the terms “gamousin” and “gamésas” and came up with a total of 8 hits, 7 of them were LDS sites. I was a little confused about the two terms so I looked up the passage using Strong’s links (a very useful research too, BTW). Anyway, I’m not sure where the LDS are getting these two terms because the Greek translation I’m seeing has the two words in Mark 12:25 listed as gameo (“to wed”) and gamisko (“give in marriage”). Both come from the root word “gamos” which means a wedding or marriage. I’m really confused why the LDS are using other terms that aren’t in the Greek Lexicon so I really can’t offer any translation on what gamousin or gamesas mean. I really can’t comment on the definition you provided of them meaning an ACT or STATE OF. Perhaps they are just in a different form of the word but I do think it is interesting that only the LDS appear to be using these two terms here. I tried typing both words you supplied into an online Greek lexicon and couldn’t find either.

    Using the very helpful links from Strong’s we can find where the other uses of the word “gameo” are found in the NT. It is used in the New Testament to mean “marry” (1 Tim 5:14, 1 Tim 5:11, Luke 20:34), “to be married” (1 Cor. 7:39), “she that is married” (1 Cor. 7:34), “he that is married” (1 Cor. 7:33), “unto the married” (1 Cor. 7:10), “they married wives” (Luke 17:27). I didn’t want to exhaust myself so the list is not exhaustive; however it is clear that there are multiple potential meanings to this word. The only time “gamisko” is used in the Bible is in this passage, so that doesn’t offer much new insight.

    As a lay person I try not to throw around the Greek because I don’t know enough to really know what I’m talking about. 🙂 That’s why I think its best to stick with the clear meaning from the text. You don’t have to know Greek to understand the question the Sadducees were asking. Remember, the woman in question in the passage was not GOING TO BE MARRIED, she already WAS married. In other words, it wouldn’t make sense for them to be asking if there would be a marriage ceremony in heaven. The question was WHO she would be married to in heaven. Jesus response to them shut down their theory about marriage in the afterlife.

    Stephanie

  87. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 11:22 pm

    Darrell,
    It’s becoming obvious that both of us are looking at the same text and assuming two different things from the very limited words recorded. The difference is that I admit you have a fair interpretation (except the baffling staying innocent bit), while you arrogantly refuse to see the logic and validity of my interpretation.

    How can you possibly claim The Bible does not teach that partaking of the fruit is bad. Really? Again, PROVE TO ME FROM THE BIBLE THAT ADAM AND EVE COULD NOT HAVE LEARNED WITHOUT PARTAKING IN SIN. I don’t believe that is the case.

    You’re assuming also. You do realize that I could just as easily say “prove to me that they COULD have learned without the tree.” Since this point is NOT provided via the text directly, we are left with only the circumstantial evidence. Adding this to the equation tips it in my favor:

    Exhibit A for me is the tree itself. Why is it called “The Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil?” Think about it. Ask yourself why this odd tree even exists in the garden and what it symbolizes.

    Why isn’t it called “That one evil tree that is bad and we should never eat?” Here’s where you’re wrong: God commanding them not to partake DOES NOT imply it is bad. It just means God said “do not partake.” Period. Any other view above this is speculation. Yours and mine. I get tired of you guys proceeding as if you were somehow on more solid biblical ground. You’re really not. On Christmas morning my parents made us wait to open gifts, they had their reasons, not because gifts are evil. You cannot prove with text that is not there that the tree is bad.

    Moreover, The tree’s title is VERY specific. You are missing the symbolism. All of these creation elements are symbolic. In Genesis, the tree represents attaining “godlike” knowledge of things (good & evil). Garmit, partaking of the tree does not mean that A&E actually did any of the evil things. You don’t have to try meth to understand it. It is simply “The tree of knowledge of Good & Evil.” Period. How the “knowledge” is administered (symbolized by “eating”) is not said.

    Bottom line: If this tree is the way to get “knowledge” how can NOT partaking of it get them knowledge? It can’t. Yet you maintain that A&E could have learned even if they had not eaten. You are grossly overlooking what the tree singularly represents. The writer of Genesis is stomping his foot at you because his elegant symbolism was utterly wasted. Your claim that A&E had “knowledge” BEFORE they ate undermines the tree and it’s role. It is clear that the tree represented the path to knowledge.

    If that is true (and it’s a valid take) then your idea that A&E were never meant to eat the fruit leaves them fundamentally without any knowledge. There is no escaping this “innocence” problem for you.

  88. Ethan permalink
    June 16, 2009 11:24 pm

    stephanie,

    Sory if I butchered the Greek words. However, from what you provided the point I made is exactly right:

    has the two words in Mark 12:25 listed as gameo (“to wed”) and gamisko (“give in marriage”).

    BOTH uses are the VERB or ACTION form of the root. This still implies ceremony, not already BEING married.

  89. Stephanie permalink
    June 16, 2009 11:40 pm

    Ethan,

    Its okay to butcher the Greek words…I’m definitely no expert. It was just revealing where you were getting your information from! I’m not sure you read in my post where the term “gameo” is also used in the NT. A quick look at 1 Corinthians 7:33 and 34 shows that Paul uses this same word to describe married people. “he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife” and “she that is married careth for the things of the world.” This describes a STATE not an ACT.

    Ethan, the Sadducees didn’t mean a ceremony–they were talking about someone already married. I think we really, really need to focus on what the text SAYS.

    Stephanie

  90. June 16, 2009 11:43 pm

    Jessica,
    I forgot this point also. Since your last post was referring to the context of Jesus’ statement on marraige, it is VERY crucial to understand the underlying word choice found in the earliest Greek texts. The same word is used in all three accounts so there is no confusion, it’s the word for the ceremony or act of wedding

    Hi Ethan,

    I actually wasn’t referring to that word at all. I was referring to the part where the Sadducees asked “whose wife will she be…for the seven had her to wife”? She had already had the ceremony part on the earth. They were asking who would have the eternal relationship with her. Jesus told them they were in error to even ask such a question since there is no marriage in heaven.

  91. June 16, 2009 11:46 pm

    BTW, someone thought this referred to the fact that the Sadducees believed in marriage in heaven. Hardly! The Sadducees didn’t believe in a resurrection (Mark 12:18). They were purposefully trying to trip Jesus up and show that an afterlife wouldn’t work in the case of a woman married to seven men. Jesus corrected both of their errors: 1) there IS a resurrection, and 2) there is no marriage in heaven.

  92. June 16, 2009 11:49 pm

    “The difference is that I admit you have a fair interpretation (except the baffling staying innocent bit), while you arrogantly refuse to see the logic and validity of my interpretation. ”

    Ethan,

    If I come across arrogant, I apologize. It is not my intent to do so. It is difficult at times to communicate via the internet, expecially when dealing with such “touchy” topics as religion. Conversing eye to eye is much easier… body language and tone tell a lot.

    My position is there is only one valid interpretation. Either the tree was meant to be eaten of or is wasn’t. There is NO in between on this subject. While I can understand WHY you interpret Genesis the way you do (you have gained your knowledge of the fall from outside The Bible and are approaching The Bible with belief already in hand), I do not agree that your interpretation is a valid one, for one simple reason only: God commanded them NOT TO EAT of it! You have repeatedly FAILED to address this point. You keep talking about how the tree was the only way to gain knowledge (a point not given in the Biblical narrative), yet you fail to address the fact that God said DO NOT EAT OF IT. What is your response to this? Why did God tell them NOT to partake, if He really wanted them to?

    While you appear unwilling to trust in what God commanded and instead trust satan that partaking was a “good” thing, I trust God. He said don’t partake. If Adam and Eve had not partaken, God would have made sure they still gained knowledge. To this point, my hope and prayer is my children will learn BY ME TELLING THEM AND TEACHING THEM that sex outside of wedlock is not good, illegal drugs are harmful, driving 100 miles per hour in a 65 is dangerous, etc. I certainly hope and pray they don’t have to gain knowledge of cocaine by “partaking of the tree of drugs”.

    Darrell

  93. June 17, 2009 12:02 am

    On the marriage tangent, here’s a Mormon response I’ve managed to dig up quickly –

    “A quick look at the original Greek of this passage emphasizes that there is a difference between the state of marriage and “marry[ing]” or “giving in marriage,” or wedding ceremonies, as referred to in Matthew 22:30. The word translated as “marry” is “gamousin,” the third-person form of “gameó,” which means “to enter the marriage state, to wed, to get married,” and thus clearly refers to an action at a point in time, not a state of being—”he/she/it marries,” as we’d say in English. The second term in the verse, “giving in marriage” is “gamizontai,” an alternative way of saying the same thing (with the nuance that one is doing it for one’s own benefit; called the Middle Voice in Greek).

    Some people may say that if you have been married, you have been “given in marriage,” and this is true. So what’s the difference between the “given in marriage” in this sense, and in the sense of “being married?” In 1 _Cor. 7:33 we see exactly the phrase that describes a married person: “But he that is married (“gamésas” = “the married one”) careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.”

    If Jesus had wanted to deny the existence of eternal marriage, this is the word that would have been used in chronicling his confrontation with the Sadducees.”

  94. June 17, 2009 12:04 am

    Second, Mormons aren’t biblicist in nature anyway, so it’s silly to expect us to take the Matthew account as final when it is clearly open to further explanation and interpretation – such as that found in the Doctrine and Covenants.

    We’re open to further clarification from God on past statements. Since Matthew doesn’t foreclose the possibility of the Mormon view, it’s all good as far as I’m concerned.

  95. Stephanie permalink
    June 17, 2009 12:08 am

    Hi Seth,

    The section we were discussing was the parallel passage in Mark 12. But, its all good. Whats not good is not reading the passage in context. The context of the passage is talking about a woman who is ALREADY married. Not GOING TO BE MARRIED. Parsing the Greek to mean one thing or another doesn’t help those simple facts.

    Stephanie

  96. June 17, 2009 12:17 am

    Yes Stefanie, yet ignoring what the Greek actually says doesn’t help matters either.
    Reading into the text what the text actually doesn’t say just because it matches your personal interpretation of the context doesn’t a strong argument make.

    Paul was a very educated individual. He knew the differences of the language he used. I think it would be wise to trust some of the greek grammar every once and awhile.

  97. Ethan permalink
    June 17, 2009 12:23 am

    Darrell, I really have nothing more to say on this.

    Does this sum it up?

    Your view:
    The “knowledge” tree was not intended to be used for knowledge.

    My view:
    They were to get knowledge from the only tree deliberately labeled with a giant flourescent neon “knowledge” sign.

    I’m not Sonia Sotomayor, but one of these views would have a hard day in court.

    As for God’s command. I actually have addressed this.

    Your view:
    By commanding not to eat, God is telling us the tree is evil. Period.

    My view:
    You’re assuming. We don’t know God’s reasons. Just because he did not want them to eat that moment does not necessarily mean it’s evil. Perhaps they were not ready to eat. Perhaps he was saving it for later, ala the New Testament. Why didn’t God give mankind the New Testament from day one? Or just kill Satan and evil on day one?

    Like I said, on Christmas morning my parents made us wait to open gifts, that didn’t mean the gifts were bad, just that the time was not right. So yes, I reject the idea that the scripture states the tree was bad.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree.

  98. NChristine permalink
    June 17, 2009 12:28 am

    Ethan,

    One clarification — It seemed you were arguing that the Tree itself was not evil. I don’t really think that is the issue. The issue is whether or not God said, “Do not eat.” Think of Jesus in His 40-day temptation. Satan tempted the fasting Jesus to make stones into bread. Is bread evil? No! However, God had led Him into the wilderness to be tempted, and so He was obeying God by abstaining from food for that period. So He resisted Satan’s temptation and didn’t partake, even though feeding one’s body is, in and of itself, a perfectly fine thing to do. This is the same with Adam and Eve. There is nothing that says this particular tree was “evil.” Indeed, everything God made was called “very good.” Rather, the evil was in disobeying God’s word, which said not to eat.

    You seemed not to understand the delineation made earlier between temptation and sin. Jesus was “tempted in all things,” but Jesus did not “sin” (give in to temptation). To say temptation may serve a good purpose is surely true…as long as we do not succumb. Jesus showed us, by His perfect resistance to temptation, what God wants of us when we are tempted. Adam, on the other hand, was punished because he “hearkened unto the voice of” Eve — in other words, because he gave in to temptation.

    I know you are having a lot of conversations at once. 🙂

  99. Stephanie permalink
    June 17, 2009 12:32 am

    Hello PC,

    I wasn’t dismissing the Greek at all! In fact, I researched it carefully using my computer program with a Greek Lexicon on it. I also used an online lexicon. I am FAR from dismissing the Greek. Please see the post I wrote above where I had listed the various times those Greek words were used. What I was trying to point out was that

    1. Ethan’s words were not the correct ones (at least not what I had in my lexicon).

    2. There is more than one meaning for the Greek words. See above.

    3. The clear meaning of the passage is the same regardless of the words used.

    Steph

  100. Stephanie permalink
    June 17, 2009 12:46 am

    Okay, just so I get this all clear. 🙂 I THINK this is what ya’ll are saying.

    One woman married multiple men. The Sadducees wondered, “Whose wife will she be?” Jesus response, “None. For there are no marriage ceremonies in heaven.”

    And this is the way I’m reading the passage:

    One woman married multiple men. The Sadducees wondered, “Whose wife will she be?” “None. For there is no marriage in heaven.”

  101. June 17, 2009 12:50 am

    You can read it that way if you want.

    Point is, if there were another passage in the New Testament – say from Paul explaining that there is eternal marriage, you would easily find a way to reconcile it with this verse.

    As Mormons have done.

  102. Stephanie permalink
    June 17, 2009 12:56 am

    Seth,

    Thing is the Bible doesn’t have such a verse or passage affirming eternal marriage. On the subject of Paul, 1 Corinthians 7 points out that it is better to stay single than to marry. Marriage has nothing to do with the plan of salvation according to Paul.

    But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

    33But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

    34There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

    35And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely, and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

    36But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.

    37Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

    38So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

    39The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

    40But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.

    Stephanie

  103. germit permalink
    June 17, 2009 1:19 am

    Ethan: yours is largely a problem with GOD and how HE planned on getting A and E the knowledge of good and evil without the tree. I guess that would make a good question when we see HIM. As it is, we are not constrained to have an answer to that to know for a certainty that eating of the fruit was a bad idea, wrong, sinful. That’s just the plain reading of not just one text, but many. Working from some kind of weird argument of silence reg. an alleged ‘innocence’ problem doesn’t change the many scriptures that say so plainly that Adam and Eve blew it. I know that my saying so doesn’t make it so, but really, most people debate on the depth of, or ramifications of, the wrong committed here. It’s an unusual position to say the wrong is actually no wrong at all. And maybe your take is the right one….but , as with many an LDS belief, it flies in the face of what christians have thot they knew for quite some time. I know that 1000 people believing a lie does’nt change the lie…..maybe you fall back on that.

    I’ve enjoyed the give and take, and learned a little bit, at least.

    GERMIT

  104. June 17, 2009 1:37 am

    Ethan,

    I am fine agreeing to disagree. I think we have both made our points. However, I do need to amend a couple of your statements…

    Of my view you said: “The “knowledge” tree was not intended to be used for knowledge.”

    Correction: My view is simply God commanded Adam and Eve NOT to partake of the fruit and He meant it.

    Of your view you said: “They were to get knowledge from the only tree deliberately labeled with a giant flourescent neon “knowledge” sign. ”

    Comments – If you want to keep the giant neon sign, go for it. But, if you want to be true to the spirit of the Biblical narrative, you must add the words “GOD SAID DON”T PARTAKE” to the sign. In additon, I see your view as saying, “We are not really sure why God said don’t partake but we trust, despite what He said, that God really wanted them to partake of the tree. Therefore, their partaking of the tree was a GOOD thing.”

    Of my view you said: “By commanding not to eat, God is telling us the tree is evil. Period.”

    Correction: By commanding not to eat, God is telling them NOT TO EAT… period.

    Of your view you said: “You’re assuming. We don’t know God’s reasons. Just because he did not want them to eat that moment does not necessarily mean it’s evil. Perhaps they were not ready to eat. Perhaps he was saving it for later, ala the New Testament. Why didn’t God give mankind the New Testament from day one? Or just kill Satan and evil on day one?”

    Comments: Maybe it is just me but your parsing of God’s words by saying “Perhaps He really meant ‘x”” or “Perhaps He really meant ‘Y’.” sounds a lot like Bill Clinton, “I guess it depends on what God’s definition of ‘is’ is”… or rather, “I guess it depends on what God’s definition of “Don’t partake” is.” How about this… God said, “Don’t partake” and He meant, “Don’t partake.” That keeps it pretty simple.

    In reality, your view actually assumes a lot….

    * You are assuming God didn’t really mean it when He said “not to partake.” OR at a minimum God was planning to remove the command “not to partake” – NOTE: Even if we grant this latter position (which is not in The Bible) God had not removed the command and therefore, the fall WAS STILL A BAD THING FOR IT WAS THE RESULT OF SIN.
    * You are assuming the tree is the way God intended them to get knowledge -not in The Bible
    * You are assuming satan was telling the truth about it being the way to get knowledge – not in The Bible
    * You are assuming God had no other plan in mind for man to get knowledge – not in The Bible
    * I could keep going but you get my point. You assume A WHOLE HOST OF THINGS WHICH ARE NOT IN THE BIBLE.

    I, on the other hand, don’t assume anything. I take one, and only one, position – God said don’t eat and He meant it…. period. Given that God is a God of truth and not lies I hardly see this as an assumption.

    Again, I am fine agreeing to disagree.

    God Bless and have a good night. I have been on the internet enough tonight. Time to move on to other things!

    Darrell

  105. germit permalink
    June 17, 2009 1:46 am

    Seth wrote:

    Point is, if there were another passage in the New Testament – say from Paul explaining that there is eternal marriage, you would easily find a way to reconcile it with this verse.

    As Mormons have done.

    well, yeah…without that mythical verse from Paul….what a gomer…….

  106. June 17, 2009 4:16 am

    “Thing is the Bible doesn’t have such a verse or passage affirming eternal marriage.”

    That’s right Stephanie. Good thing we Mormons DO have such scriptures…

    I figured Paul’s statements in 1 Corinthians would be pulled out sooner or later.

    This has already been addressed. Check out the following Ensign article from 1976:

    http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/1976.htm/ensign%20february%201976.htm/i%20have%20a%20question.htm?fn=document-frame.htm&f=templates&2.0#LPTOC2

  107. NChristine permalink
    June 17, 2009 4:26 am

    Hi Webster,

    I hope you get this as your comment was on the other site. 🙂

    Was eating the fruit a, “transgression of the law,” and thus a sin, or was it simply a transgression (but not against some element of eternal law)?

    You seem to be asking this: Did Adam and Eve transgress an “eternal law” or just a warning from God? I would answer this way: They transgressed the word of God, which is “law.” Psalm 119, King David’s masterpiece on the Law of the Lord, constantly uses the following words interchangeably: law, testimonies, statutes, commandments, word, etc. Adam and Eve broke God’s command regarding the tree, so that is a violation of His law. Adam and Eve would have done well to follow David’s tactic: “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). When God said, “Do not eat,” that was His command. His command is His law.

    The most recent post, to which no one has yet commented, shows that in Romans 5 Paul argues that Adam and Eve broke an explicit law, unlike those living between Adam and Moses. I would encourage you to read that post.

    In the rest of your comment, I think you are arguing that if Jesus’ atonement overcame the effects of Adam and Eve’s sin without repentance, than how could their sin have been real sin? (Is that right?) The only thing about that is the Scripture does not at all describe the atonement in this manner. It is never described as something that applies automatically to all people (without their personal faith). Further, it is never presented as having anything to do with physical resurrection. Indeed, Jesus did say He would physically raise all the dead (both wicked and righteous) — but some to eternal life, and some to “the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:29). This does not sound as though His atonement automatically reversed the effects of the Fall for all. If physical resurrection was effected by the atonement, then the atonement doesn’t seem to have a good effect! Being raised to “damnation” does not sound like a good result to me! But the Bible never links the atonement to physical resurrection — that is a purely LDS teaching. (The most recent “Imputed Sin” post discusses the “automatic” issue, too; maybe you can read it and interact with that section, as well.)

  108. NChristine permalink
    June 17, 2009 4:40 am

    Seth,

    I just scanned your link. Yes — many of the things I saw are things commonly taught — i.e., Paul may have been married at one time (thus a widower at this point, if so), that Paul wanted married people to focus on Christ as if they were single, that Paul was not “against” marriage, etc. Yes — very true.

    However, there was something missing in the article (at least what I saw): the very clear statements presented in the passage quoted above. Here is Paul’s verdict about the relative value of singleness and marriage:

    “So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.”

    Here is his verdict about the relative value of remarrying or remaining single after widowhood:

    “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord. But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.”

    So singleness is “better” than marriage, and single widowhood is “happier” than remarriage. Those are just the statements. They don’t fit very well with an idea of salvation that is all tied up with marriage.

  109. June 17, 2009 6:32 am

    If you’re going to read them THAT way, I don’t think they tie in very well with reality either.

  110. Stephanie permalink
    June 17, 2009 10:44 am

    Seth said:

    This has already been addressed. Check out the following Ensign article from 1976:

    http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/1976.htm/ensign%20february%201976.htm/i%20have%20a%20question.htm?fn=document-frame.htm&f=templates&2.0#LPTOC2

    Just an observation…..

    It seems to me that when a Bible passage might possibly contradict LDS doctrine Mormons are quick to consult their sources…even before studying the passage well for themselves and seeking to understand it in the context. Does the Moroni 10:4 charge not apply to Scripture as well or am I missing something here? It would appear to me that instead of praying and seeking Holy Spirit guidance some Mormons turn to FAIR, FARMS and other Mormon apologetics first. If I were to read the BOM and then instantly turn to the \”counter cult\” websites for refutation wouldn\’t you accuse me of not showing real intent and and faith? It would appear that you are not showing real intent and faith when grappling with passages that seem to refute your doctrine.

    Stephanie

  111. GERMIT permalink
    June 17, 2009 1:15 pm

    I know this is a very crude paraphrase of Pauls words in 1st Cor, but here is the gist of it , for me: Paul is saying “my life is lived out for the gospel….I’m not missing a thing, and I’d commend this to anyone else who can accept the call to being single.” I think it’s the pre-eminence of the gospel that’s the major player here, and he is pointing out that in some ways, singleness actually helps. I don’t think it’s a categorical “singleness is generically better than marriage” argument.

    that’s my 5cents worth as I sip my dark roast….

    seen this way, it does square with reality
    GERMIT

  112. June 17, 2009 2:37 pm

    Stephanie, if you don’t have a decent response, just say so rather than whining about FAIR and cut and paste jobs.

    I’m a busy person. I don’t have time to reinvent the wheel every time this issue comes up (and don’t think I haven’t argued this issue before).

  113. June 17, 2009 2:48 pm

    Germit,

    I agree with your paraphrasing. That is how I understand Paul’ words. It always troubled me, while LDS, because Paul’s words do not square at all with LDS doctrine. Marriage, in the LDS mindset, is looked upon as one of the ultimate goals of this life – being sealed in the Temple for Time and All Eternity, having children, who are then sealed to you (born IN THE COVENANT), etc. It does not bode well for those who are called to be single. Reality shows us some people are, in fact, called to be single and Paul’s words back that reality up. Unfortunately, due to the overt focus on the marriage institution within LDS circles many singles are made to feel like second class citizens. The church has in recent years made attempts to reach out to these singles but the problem is the idea of marriage being hte ulitimate goal is built into the fabric of the doctrine. Unless the doctrine changes, it is not going away… to bad for those who are called by God to be single!

    Darrell

  114. Webster permalink
    June 17, 2009 3:16 pm

    If all of God’s words in the Bible are of equal weight and all equal commandments, then when Paul says it is better not to marry, wouldn’t that logically mean that those who marry are committing sin? Marriage would be something less than that which is better, so it would be a falling short, i.e., a sin.

    Do you hold that it is a sin for a woman to speak in the church or to have her head uncovered? Do we allow polygamy, slavery, etc., since there were laws governing those practices in the Bible?

    How do we reconcile the command to multiply with the idea that it is better to not marry? Is this a catch-22 ?

  115. June 17, 2009 3:34 pm

    Webster,

    IMO there is no cathc-22. You have to take the totality of what The Bible says into account. As for the issue of marriage, some are called to marry and have children while some are called to be single. For those called to be single it is much better to do so. Marriage is not a sin if you are called to marry. It is a matter of following God’s calling for you and your life.

    Darrell

  116. June 17, 2009 3:42 pm

    That’s a good read Darrell. And I agree that the LDS Church could benefit from such perspective. Family is over-emphasized in Mormon tradition.

    But doctrinally, the Bible doesn’t foreclose the idea of eternal marriage. That’s the point here.

  117. June 17, 2009 3:53 pm

    Seth and I agree on something!! Man, crazy things do happen!! 🙂

    “But doctrinally, the Bible doesn’t foreclose the idea of eternal marriage. That’s the point here.”

    Here is where I see the LDS Church having problems. I am going to completely set aside what Christ said in Matthew and Mark for a moment. Personally, I believe He was saying marriage does not exist in heaven. When I studied the verbs used in both of those verses I found they are Present Active Indicative verbs which tend to project forward to the future an event from today. In other words, He was saying although they were married in this life THEY WILL NOT be married in the next. This lines up perfectly with the question He was asked. Nevertheless, I will set this point aside.

    Let’s assume you are correct that being called to be single does not foreclose the idea of eternal marriage for those called to be married. The problem is, what about those called to be single? If eternal marriage is one of the ultimate goals of this life and carries with is SO MANY ETERNAL BLESSINGS in the celestial kingdom, then why would God call people to be single at all? They are going to miss out on some serious eternal blessings. Would God CALL PEOPLE to a life where they miss out on the ultimate blessings He has to provide?

    Darrell

  118. NChristine permalink
    June 17, 2009 3:58 pm

    Webster,

    Paul says that marriage is good (“doeth well,” please see I Cor. 7 quoted above) but that singleness is “better.” That doesn’t mean it is a catch-22 — it just means that, at least in the sense about which he was speaking (being “without carefulness” or having less “trouble in the flesh,” etc.), singleness is better than the good thing, which is marriage. It’s not a matter of one evil and one good.

    Seth and all,

    I think Darrell and maybe Germit are referring to this passage, a discussion between Jesus and His disciples:

    9And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

    10His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.

    11But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given.

    12For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother’s womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it (Matthew 19:9-12).

    While most (other than perhaps the ever-peculiar 2nd century Origen) probably see this as referring to figurative “eunuchs,” it is worthy of note that the prophet Daniel was apparently a eunuch due to the Babylonian captivity (see Daniel 1:3-18), and one of the first Gentile converts to Christianity was also a eunuch (see Acts 8). Thus, they were obviously single. Since Daniel was lifted up as a prime example of righteousness (Ezekiel 14:14, 20), it seems rather hard to believe that he will not make it to heaven by virtue of being unmarried. 🙂

  119. June 17, 2009 4:55 pm

    I am agnostic about Paul being married but the argument that he was married because he was a member of the Sanhedrin makes a number of assumptions that are not totally supported by Scripture. First the nominal minimum age for entry into the Sanhedrin is 40. Membership in the Sanhedrin also requires two children. If Paul was 40 years old at his conversion (33-34 AD) he would have been 70+ years old at the end of his life (64-67 AD), this is quite old for the time period. This is not a conclusive argument against his being a member of the Sanhedrin because it is plausible that Paul was in fact an active 70+ year old man or that he was granted early entry to the Sanhedrin.

    Acts 7:58 and 22:20 also do not prove that Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin, that he was a witness of the stoning of Stephen cannot be debated, but the Sanhedrin, under Roman rule did not have the power to perform executions so it is much more plausible that Stephen was killed by an act of mob violence and no “official” Sanhedrin witness would have been necessary.

    Acts 26:10 may in fact be evidence that Paul was not a member of the Sanhedrin. Why would Paul need a commission from the Chief Priest if (Acts 26:10, 12) if he was acting on the authority of the Sanhedrin? If Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin then why would he have needed a commission or authority from the Priestly Class? Finally, there is Paul’s arrest in Jerusalem (Acts 21:17–23:35) where he never references his membership in the Sanhedrin despite appearing before it. Once again this is not conclusive that Paul was not a member of the Sanhedrin but it does show that Paul’s membership is not an undisputed fact.

    I think it would be honest to say that Paul may have been married because he may have been a member of the Sanhedrin.

  120. GERMIT permalink
    June 17, 2009 6:04 pm

    Some of the OMISSIONS in the bible are, IMO , as heaven sent as what WAS written. In this case, Paul’s marital status is opaque. THANK GOD. Because if we knew for sure, we’d make too big a deal out of 1)his being single, and miss the point….or 2)make too big a deal out of his being married and miss the point. God , in HIS wisdom, keeps us guessing. I think that was one of HIS strokes of genius, among many.

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